A HEALTH worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child at a slum in Karachi on Monday.—AFP
A HEALTH worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child at a slum in Karachi on Monday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday expressed the hope that Pakistan would soon become a “polio-free” country as only one case of the paralysing disease was reported in the country during the current year.

The prime minister kicked off the polio eradication campaign by administering vaccination drops to some children. He expressed satisfaction over sharp decline in new polio cases.

“With well-coordinated efforts of the federal and provincial governments, Pakistan can become a polio-free country,” the prime minister said while chairing a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication which was attended by Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mohammad Khalid Khursheed, PM’s Special Assistant Dr Shahbaz Gill, Engineer-in-Chief Pakistan Army Lieutenant General Moazzam Ijaz, provincial chief secretaries and representatives of the Ministry of Health and global partners.

Congratulating the provincial governments and the partners for the polio eradication campaign, he said surfacing of a single case across the country this year was a great success. “However, their mission is to make Pakistan a complete polio-free country,” he added.

Says Pakistan will soon become ‘polio free’

The meeting was apprised that due to effective strategy of the federal and provincial governments, only one polio case had been reported from Balochistan this year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the polio immunization campaign had been slow.

Prime Minister Khan said during the pandemic, the government saved human lives along with securing livelihood of the people, which was acknowledged by the world. “With such spirit, they (all stakeholders) would have to defeat polio,” he added.

It was informed in the meeting that in different districts of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, traces of poliovirus were found. Due to issues of access, security and non-cooperation of parents, every year, a large number of children were deprived from being administered polio drops.

The meeting was told that information and technology was being utilised along with geographical information system and tracking in this regard.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Development president Dr Chris Elias lauded the prime minister and the government for achieving a significant milestone in the polio eradication campaign.

The chief ministers apprised the meeting about the measures taken in their respective provinces with regard to polio eradication drive.

The prime minister also expressed his gratitude to global partners, including World Health Organisation, Rotary International and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for extending technical and financial support to the country.

Earlier, the prime minister administered anti-polio drops to children while inaugurating fresh countrywide polio campaign at Prime Minister House.

Mera Ghar Mobile Service

Prime Minister Khan also launched a mobile service of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to provide loans to the people who wanted to have their dream house under the PM’s Mera Ghar Programme.

The NBP service called “Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar” was launched under which mobile vans of the bank will move to remote and far-flung areas where proper banking facility is not available and will provide one-window facility to process house loan cases.

It is believed that some commercial banks will follow suit and launch their own mobile services to make PM’s housing programme successful.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2021

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