ISLAMABAD, April 29: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday feared that the threat of international travel restrictions looms large on Pakistan and that it will share progress results during the last six months in the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) meeting to be held next month in United Kingdom.
Talking to a group of newsmen at the World Health Organisation offices at Chak Shahzad, the country head for polio eradication at the WHO, Dr Elias Durry, accompanied by high-ranking WHO staff and the national coordinator for the Prime Minister’s Polio Cell, Dr Altaf Bosan, said the country had made considerable progress in the fight against polio during the last six months.
“The country was never so close to eradicating polio in the past,” he said.
Replying to a question regarding the threat of international travel restrictions in the country, Dr Durry stated that the WHO had recorded a massive decrease in the number of positive sewage water samples and the three known poliovirus transmission zones had seen continuous improvement.
“Pakistan successfully eradicated P-3 type of poliovirus on April 18 and is now only left with a single P-1 type to eradicate,” he said.
“We will share the results of our findings with the IMB and we expect a very positive result on proposed travel restrictions,” said Dr Altaf Bosan, when asked to comment about the possibility of fast approaching deadline of May 31 for international travel restrictions on Pakistani citizens traveling abroad.
The WHO polio chief stated that as many as 1.83 million children were left un-immunised, when sharing results of the national polio campaign held from April 15-17.
“Polio teams could not reach 763,714 children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), whereas 621,724 and 396,925 were missed in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan respectively,” he said.
Dr Bosan said almost 70,000 children could not be immunised due to parental refusal in the country. “Polio teams recorded 33,693 refusals only in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, while Sindh and Balochistan reported 24,569 and 9,442 refusals,” he said.
“Peshawar posed the gravest threat to the fight against polio as Peshawar was recording continuous transmission of the P-1 virus since past many months,” he said while sharing the results of Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) conducted by WHO, after the recently concluded national polio round.
Dr Durry revealed, “Larama and Shaheen Town union councils of Peshawar have been continuously recording uninterrupted poliovirus transmission during the last many months, which is a great cause of concern for the WHO.”
“There are three transmission zones: Fata, Quetta, including Pishin and Qila Abdullah districts, and Karachi.
During the last eight months, one case was reported from a transmission zone from Bin Qasim Town Karachi,” he said.
Dr Durry said: “The genetic clusters which remained positive in the last three years are absent during this year’s first three months,” he said.
Later, WHO Country Head for Polio Eradication Dr Elias Durry on Monday gave polio hero certificate to Iqrar Ahmed who was attacked by members of a local area on April 16 in Rawalpindi, while performing his duties as a polio vaccination in-charge.
Iqrar Ahmed refused to lodge any report with R.A. police station and asked the people to allow vaccination of the children.
“We wish to express our deep gratitude for Iqrar’s exemplary dedication and courage. His efforts are truly heroic, and are an inspiration to all of the polio eradication fraternity,” Dr Durry said.