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President Asif Ali Zardari. — File Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday reiterated that eradication of polio was the PPP-led government’s top priority.

The spokesman to the President, Senator Farhatullah Babar, said that President Zardari was discussing the situation with regard to the reported polio cases in the country and the steps being taken for eradication of the disease with representatives of some international agencies and non-governmental organisations at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

The delegation comprised of Mrs. Katharina Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director, Kalayan Banarjee, President Rotary International, Dr. Waqar Ajmal, Bill Gates & Melinda Foundation, Aziz Memon, Chairman Polio plus Committee Rotary International, Dr. Guido Sabatinelli, WHO Representative Pakistan, and Dan Roharmann, Country Head UNICEF.

Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Chairperson President's Polio Oversight Committee, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, SAPM on Social Sector & PM Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Nasreen Haque, Secretary to President, Zaid Usman, Additional Secretary, Dr. Altaf Bosan, National Coordinator PM Monitoring and Coordination Cell for Polio Eradication and other senior officials were present on the occasion.

The meeting was informed that the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) focused mainly on oversight and accountability mechanisms at the federal, provincial, district and grassroots levels besides strategies aimed to ensure access to the sensitive areas.

Discussing the situation obtaining in the tribal areas and some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, President Zardari said that the government was making efforts with the support of political and religious leaders and other notables, to reach out even to those areas where inaccessibility and security issues had hampered polio eradication campaigns in the past.

During the meeting, the president also telephoned Maulana Fazlur Rehman and requested him to meet the delegation to discuss issues relating to resistance offered by some people on religious grounds to the anti-polio campaigns.

The Maulana expressed his willingness to meet the delegation.

The meeting was also informed that a strategy had been introduced to cover children moving out of and into the Federally Administered Areas. For this purpose special polio teams had been constituted.

It was told that 56 transit points had been established to cover these children.

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