ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the relevant authorities in the federal and provincial governments to undertake effective immunization and awareness campaigns to check the incidence of polio.

Chairing a high level meeting on polio incidence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country here on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that polio eradication is the top most priority of the government as it affects the future generation. He also expressed concerns over the recent spike in polio cases.

The Prime Minister stressed upon the need for a robust partnership between Ehsaas and polio eradication program for synergized implementation of the two vital programs.

The Representatives of Pakistan Army assured full support to polio teams in their efforts to reach out to the children in far flung areas of the country.

Representatives of international partners and donors also assured their continued cooperation to the government of Pakistan in polio eradication mission.

Expresses concern over recent spike in polio cases

Deputy Director Polio Bill and Melinda Gates Dr Tim Peterson also presented a letter of appreciation from Bill Gates to the Prime Minister for the efforts being made to eliminate the crippling disease.

On the occasion, the Chief Ministers of KP and Balochistan and the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Sindh apprised the meeting about the measures taken for polio eradication in their provinces.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta briefed the meeting about the report of International Monitoring Board for the year 2017-18 identifying loopholes in the strategy at that time which led to recent spike of polio cases in some parts of country especially Bannu division.

Babar Bin Atta briefed the meeting about the new strategy which is based on four new pillars including shift from push to pull, from disease control to eradication, ownership at the highest level and ensuring complete accountability at the operational level.

He also highlighted various measures being taken for perception management including engagement with social media platforms to counter anti vaccine propaganda, involving mainstream media for mass awareness campaign, establishment of round the clock call center and publicizing environment or human cases.

BILL GATES PENS LETTER

TO PM KHAN

NNI adds: In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has offered the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for eradicating poliomyelitis (polio) in Pakistan.

The billionaire philanthropist, in the letter dated August 16, 2019, pledged to continue working with the relevant authorities in Pakistan to eradicate polio virus from the country.

“Currently, I’m concerned with the polio situation in Pakistan […] Large numbers of children in key reservoirs continue to be missed during polio campaigns, in large part due to sub-optimal management and increased community resistance to vaccination – all of which is allowing the virus to build and continue circulating,” Gates wrote.

“At the request of the National Emergency Operations Centre, the foundation’s polio team provided support to an independent management review of Pakistan’s polio program in the high priority districts and those contributing to polio transmission, starting in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar. Our team is working with the independent management review team and the NEOC to finalise recommendations and develop an implementation plan slated to start before the low season campaigns in November,” the letter added.

He requested PM Khan to endorse the recommendations and implementation plan prepared following the management’s review.

The letter further stated that in June, a meeting was held with Sania Nishtar regarding the government’s poverty alleviation programme.

Gates expressed willingness in devising long-term plans regarding the poverty alleviation programme and establishing a Program Delivery Unit to help implement the Ehsaas Program’s financial inclusion, nutrition, and other development objectives.