Pakistan will be polio-free in two years, says president

Published July 1, 2015
ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain at a meeting with a delegation led by Chairman of the International Polio Plus Committee Michael K. McGovern here on Tuesday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain at a meeting with a delegation led by Chairman of the International Polio Plus Committee Michael K. McGovern here on Tuesday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain has expressed the hope that Pakistan would rid itself of the crippling poliovirus within two years.

Talking to International Polio Plus Committee Chairman Michael K. McGovern, who had called on him along with a delegation at the Presidency on Tuesday, the president was quoted as saying that Pakistan was not responsible for the spread of polio; rather the elements who had spread terrorism in the region should be blamed for it.

He reiterated that Pakistan was committed to eradicating the poliovirus and called upon the international community to be considerate towards Pakistan and extend all possible cooperation in this regard so that the country would work to eliminate the crippling disease without any problems.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) assistance programme for the eradication of polio in Pakistan is set to end by 2018. However, it is a good sign that this year reported polio cases are said to be far less than those reported in 2014. So far in 2015, 25 cases have been reported, as against 306 in 2014.

Vaccination drives in remote parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are believed to be one of the major reasons for a significant decline in the number of polio cases in the country this year.

The president emphasised that Pakistan’s commitment to polio eradication remained firm and resolute. He also stressed that the polio eradication programme enjoyed the government ownership at the highest levels.

“The chief ministers of all the provinces are paying special attention to ensure that every child is reached by the polio programme,” he said.

He mentioned that the government of Pakistan’s decisive action against terrorism had a positive effect on the polio eradication initiative and appreciated the role of Rotary International as a major partner of the government in its campaign against polio.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr McGovern lauded the commitment and seriousness of the efforts of the government for eradication of polio and assured the president that he would speak to the Unicef head to lift travel restrictions imposed on Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2015

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