ISLAMABAD: The two United Nations specialised agencies working to eradicate polio from the world, have praised Pakistan’s polio programme.

In their joint statement issued from Cairo on Thursday, Unicef regional director for South Asia George Laryea-Adjei and WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmad Al-Mandhari said the commitment and progress witnessed in Pakistan should be sustained until the very end, until transmission is interrupted, and the case number reaches zero.

They said that the recent Independent Surveillance Review “has assured us that Pakistan has one of the most developed polio surveillance systems in the world, capable of detecting poliovirus circulation – and it does”.

“We concluded our second mission in November heartened that Pakistan’s polio programme is fit for purpose in a way it has never been before. Vaccination campaigns have become more precise, operations and monitoring more rigorous and corrective actions timelier and more effective,” the UN officials stated.

“Sewage samples are routinely collected from 65 sites strategically located in 44 districts across the country. What we need to do now is close the gaps on the ground, so this system is even more sensitive to the timely detection of very low levels of poliovirus circulation,” they said, adding that it must be ensured that quality campaigns on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border reach every child.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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