LAHORE: The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for concerted efforts to eradicate Poliomyelitis (polio) from the surface of the earth.
Addressing a seminar on ‘One Day, One Focus: Endling Polio’ at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Friday, WHO National Surveillance Coordinator for Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) Dr Shafiqur Rehman said 79 cases of polio had been reported so far this year as compared to 147 last year.
The seminar was organized in collaboration with Emergency Operation Centre Punjab to commemorate World Polio Day which is observed on October 24 every year.
“The day must serve as a reminder that now more than ever we need to have social, political and global will to make polio the second human disease in history to be wiped from earth,” said Mr Zaheer while addressing the seminar.
“We can all be champions of polio eradication. As we join hands on the road to ending polio, we can implement strategies and innovations to reach the non-immunised children; let’s leave no child behind”, he added.
Dr Shafiq ur Rehman admitted that 2019 had been a crisis year as far as efforts for eradication of crippling disease were concerned.
However, he added, that things had improved as gaps had clearly been identified and strategies modified accordingly to make the immunization campaign a success.
“We must all give our best on this campaign to eradicate polio once and for all. I wish for zero polio transmission in the year to come. You all must give your full support to help us reach every child and stop this virus for good,” Dr Shafiq said.
He added that the PEI staff had been on the forefront in the fight against Covid-19.
“Using the vast infrastructure developed to identify the poliovirus and deliver vaccination campaigns, the polio eradication programme is pitching in to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19, especially with regards to detection, isolation, tracking of contacts, supporting labs in data collection and coordination and management of quarantine facilities,” he said.
The government extended a national helpline (1166) originally used for polio-related calls to now cater to the public’s need for information on Covid-19.
He added that the polio communications team was using strategies routinely used to promote polio vaccines to disseminate information about the Covid-19 virus, including working with social media, to ensure accurate information sharing, and airing television adverts.
Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2020