ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) reviewing progress and efforts of Pakistan and Afghanistan for eradication of polio concluded in Geneva on Thursday. The board will release its report within three weeks.

The IMB works on behalf of international donor agencies and it issues reports regarding performance of countries after every six months.

Federal Secretary of Health Iftikhar Shallwani told the IMB meeting that Pakistan was on the right path to eradicate polio and the country would interrupt the virus transmission in the ongoing year.

In November 2012, the IMB had recommended imposing travel restrictions on Pakistan and finally those recommendations were implemented on May 5, 2014, and because of these restrictions it is still mandatory for everyone travelling abroad to get vaccinated and carry the polio vaccination card.

According to an official statement, Mr Shallwani said the country had made progress on polio eradication despite many challenges and the country was well on the path to wipe out the polio virus from its borders.

Delivering a statement on behalf of Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel, Mr Shallwani told the IMB meeting that polio eradication was the top priority of the Pakistan government.

Highlighting the innovative strategies of the Pakistan Polio Progr­amme to reach every child with the vaccine, he said: “After the 2022 outbreak, only one polio case has been reported this year, which speaks volumes about the polio programme’s preparedness and response

capacity.”

“Many challenges still remain between us and the polio finish line, and the government is doing its utmost to reach all inaccessible children, address community hesitancy and vaccinate at border crossings,” the health secretary said.

“We are confident that we are on the right path, and we will interrupt the virus transmission this year.”

The Pakistan delegation at the IMB meeting comprised chief secretaries of all four provinces and National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication Coor­dinator Dr Shahzad Baig.

This year Pakistan has reported only one case of polio from KP as compared to last year’s 20 cases.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2023

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