Pakistan’s progress to eradicate poliovirus applauded by International partners
Islamabad: September 24, 2016: International development partners commended the country’s performance to arrest poliovirus transmission across the country and committed to continue their support to the Government of Pakistan in its way to final finish line of polio eradication. International development partners shared their unrelenting assistance during a high profile briefing at the National Emergency Operations Centre. International partners who attended the meeting included WHO, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canadian High Commission, JICA, Rotary International, CDC, Embassy of Japan, USAID and AUSAID.
Partners were also given a detailed briefing on the status of the Polio Program by National Coordinator, Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar. Besides current polio situation, he presented programme performance during low transmission season 2015-16 gauged through the independent third party. Touching the recent assessments by Technical Advisory Group and Independent Monitoring Board, Dr. Safdar shared plan to address the remaining challenges during the upcoming low season starting from nationwide campaign on September 26th. The strategic objectives of the National Emergency Action Plan 2016/17 include; stopping of poliovirus transmission in all reservoirs, ddetection, containment and elimination poliovirus from newly infected areas, maintenance and increase in population immunity against polio throughout Pakistan, stopping of international spread of WPV by decreasing risk across common reservoirs and sustained polio interruption through increased RI coverage in core reservoirs.
“Steady pressure on the virus is paying dividend that can be seen well beyond the reduced case count. Core reservoirs are now Khyber-Peshawar-Nangarhar, Quetta-Kandhar and Karachi”. Through consistent cooperation and support of the communities, we are all set to wipe the virus off through an aggressive campaign schedule, Said Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar.
Earlier, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq apprised the partners on the determination of the Government of Pakistan to fulfill the unfinished agenda of Polio free Pakistan. In her remarks, she said that the programme has travelled a considerable distance over the past 18 months to overhaul the performance management and accountability systems and structures.
Highlighting the successes of the program, Senator Farooq said that the Prime Minister’s continued direct oversight and active involvement through the National Task Force (NTF) and the Prime Minister’s Focus Group (PMFG) allowed the program to heighten oversight and accountability everywhere. Inaccessible children have been reduced to negligible levels; Frontline staff is engaged in campaigns each month, month after month, drawn mainly from the local government infrastructure.
Discussing the accountability mechanism of the program, PM Polio Focal person said that the implementation of a nationally endorsed accountability and performance management framework has resulted in the rewarding of good performance and where necessary the active removal of underperforming senior governmental or partnership staff from positions of authority.
“We must not shoot the messengers, surfacing issues and problems must continue to be encouraged and not sanctioned” opined PM Polio focal Person.
Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq appreciated continued support of the international community. “Post-Polio, we would collectively continue benefiting from this critical EOC infrastructure and working mechanisms in the interest of broader public health agenda in the country” revealed PM Polio focal person.
Partner representatives termed Polio success in Pakistan as a lesson for all public health programmes and urged utilization of the critical network of Emergency Operation Centres to deliver broader national public health agenda in future.