World Polio Day: Pakistan is closer than ever before to defeating the poliovirus

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Islamabad, 23 October 2016: In observance of the World Polio Day, Pakistan’s polio eradication programme is committing to nothing less than leaving no child unvaccinated and vulnerable to the crippling virus.

 

Speaking of the brave Sehat Muhafiz, who unfailingly work in all weather and environment to reach children in every corner of every province of Pakistan, the Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, said it is their hard work and dedication that will bring about a polio-free Pakistan.

 

“Your commitment to this noble effort to end polio in Pakistan is a beacon of hope for the future. Without your patience and perseverance we would not be in the position we are today. World Polio Day serves as a reminder that we are on the path to securing a better future for children, not just in Pakistan, but for children everywhere.”

 

“If we are to reach our goal of interrupting virus transmission, we must increase quality in everything we do – every single effort counts to help bring about a major change," Senator Ayesha said.

 

Pakistan has seen remarkable progress in 2016: a 62 per cent reduction in cases, 55 per cent reduction in positive environmental samples and a significant decrease in the number of still missed children, remaining under 1% of total target population (0.36%), compared to 1.5% the same time the year before. 

 

Despite this, the virus has proved to be a constant and resilient foe for Pakistan. 15 cases have been recorded this year and positive environmental samples continuing to be found in parts of the country.

 

“This clearly indicates we are not there yet, but it’s the best indication that we are not very far from finish line. We are vigilantly identifying and addressing the gaps and are committed to adjust and refine our tactics as required and we intend to stay the course to reach what would be a significant public health landmark for both Pakistan and the world.”

 

The wild poliovirus is now endemic in three places on earth - Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The remarkable effort that started 30 years ago — to eradicate polio — has the opportunity to make history this decade. As recently as the late 1980s, polio paralysed more than 350,000 children globally every year. Today more than 15 million people, who would otherwise be paralysed, are able to walk thanks to these efforts.

 

“Pakistan has made a strong commitment to achieving this goal and polio eradication remains a top national priority.  Frontline staff are engaged in campaigns month after month, vaccinating about 37 million children during every national campaign. Broad civil society and community support means that parents are committed to protecting their children from the virus through vaccinations each time drops are offered by our dedicated Sehat Muhafiz during these campaigns. This represents a massive commitment of our most critical national resources – people and time,” Senator Ayesha said.