Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Wednesday said that Pakistan was committed to eradicating the deadly polio virus and would fulfil all international obligations in this regard. He vowed eradication of polio from the country in the next six months and setting up of a Cabinet Committee for Eradication of Polio that would comprise Ministers for Defence, Interior and Health.
The Prime Minister who chaired a high-level meeting of the Steering Committee for the Eradication of Polio at the PM Office, categorically stated, “We shall not tolerate polio in Pakistan. We shall certainly beat it.” He said “the future of children is at stake and we must protect them at all costs.”
The meeting was attended by Chief Ministers of all four provinces, Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Federal Ministers Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Kh Muhammad Asif and Pervez Rashid. Representatives of UNICEF, World Bank, WHO, JICA also attended the meeting. “As Prime Minister every child of Pakistan is dear to me and they are like my own children. No one likes to see his own children disabled,” he remarked.
“Any laxity, negligence, inaction shall be a crime against our future generations,” the Prime Minister warned. Terming the rise in the number of reported cases as an emergency the Prime Minister said, the “war against it can be won … has to be won.” At the meeting attended by the Chief Ministers of all the four provinces Prime Minister Sharif reiterated that government would leave no stone unturned to eradicate Polio from Pakistan.
The Prime Minister said eradication of Polio was a national obligation and urged the Chief Ministers to tackle the matter with a high degree of seriousness, which it deserves. He said the presence of Chief Ministers of all four provinces and all stakeholders was a manifestation of government’s commitment to rid of this disease.
He said the Government of Pakistan, the Armed Forces and the civilian outfits all stand united to help the country fight this crippling disease and all necessary measures would be taken in this regard. He however pointed out that Pakistan faced one of the most complex environments for polio eradication in the world. He pointed out how the frontline health workers faced ban, violence, inaccessibility owing to intricate cultural and tribal norms and terrorist activities that hampered government’s plans for stopping the spread of the deadly polio virus.
He said there was no global precedence to such specific problems which our country was facing and all these problems contributed to the increase in the cases of polio this year. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the military operation was successfully underway to thrash out the terrorists from North and South Waziristan. He said the children of these areas who have been deprived of polio vaccination since 2012 are now getting immunised. “I can assure you we will grasp this opportunity to vaccinate all such children to deliver once and for all a polio-free Pakistan.”
He said “we have to protect every child within our border and beyond, ensuring Polio vaccination of international travellers in compliance with international health regulations.” The Prime Minister said he has issued instructions to provide him fortnightly briefings that he will personally monitor on regular basis.
Earlier, during the briefing the Prime Minister was informed that Japan would provide a funding of Rs 550 million to Pakistan for polio eradication. He was informed that Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation has pledged Rs 37 billion for polio eradication.
Chief Minister Punjab said only three cases have surfaced in Punjab in the last three years and special measures have been taken on the directives of the Prime Minister. He said there was close co-ordination between the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa in this regard. CM Sindh said the polio campaign could not take off in eight Union Councils of Karachi due to law and order situation. He said the security agencies were working to ensure safety of polio workers.
CM KP said all stakeholders need to work in close unison and effective steps were being taken for security of its workers. He admitted problems in polio administration campaign. He said the imposition of emergency in the province was also a problem, however an emergency cell has been set up to address the issue and all necessary resources were being spent.
CM Balochistan said there has been no case of polio in last two years and added that a massive awareness campaign was launched with the assistance of the federal government. PM AJK said effective steps have been taken in Azad Kashmir and there has been no such case in 14 years. Governor KP termed the eradication of polio in tribal areas a big challenge and most cases have come from Khyber Agency and North Waziristan, where the campaign was disturbed due to law and order situation.