ISLAMABAD - Keeping in view the urgency of the situation, Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf has directed all the four provincial governments to redouble their efforts for polio eradication and work in harmony and close coordination with the Federal Government for the implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan.

In a letter addressed to all the four chief ministers on Tuesday, Premier Sharif drew their attention towards the endemic eruption of polio virus in Pakistan, urged them to immediately map out and identify high risk areas in their provinces and adopt specific interventions for each of them depending on their particular requirements.

He said that the provincial chief executives should instruct their district level administrations to ensure vigilant oversight of the polio campaigns during the upcoming low transmission season (i.e. December 2014 to May 2015).

In the letter, the Prime Minister said polio had been declared a public health emergency and the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) was launched for its eradication.

Quite recently, he said, the Independent Monitoring Board for Global Polio Eradication had also declared polio as an international emergency.

On the other hand, he added, the Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulation had recommended that polio vaccines be administered to every international passenger travelling out of Pakistan.

The Prime Minister, in his letter, said the concern of the world community on the rapid spread of polio in Pakistan was also raised by the President of the World Bank during his (Nawaz) visit to the United States in September.

He said it had been predicted that if the spread of polio was not contained, the number of polio cases in the country might increase tenfold over the coming years.

The Prime Minister said the situation was indeed alarming, rendering it difficult to over emphasise the need to strengthen the oversight and accountability mechanisms within the NEAP, which inter alia focuses on: ensuring access to target populations in security-compromised regions; controlling further outbreaks in reservoir areas; and maintaining the polio-free status of the rest of the provinces.

Meanwhile, The National Institute of Health (NIH) on Tuesday confirmed seven new wild type-1 polio cases from Peshawar and Khyber Agency. The total number of cases has reached 227 during the current year.

Out of seven new cases four are from Khyber Agency, while one each is from FR Bannu, Charsadda and Peshawar.

Out of total 227 cases, Federally Administered Tribal Area has reported 148, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 46, Sindh, 23, Punjab, 03, and Balochistan, 07.

The NIH official said that polio cases increased during the high transmission season from July to December.

Comparatively, last year’s figures were 31 by September 2013. This year’s the total cases have reached 222 with FATA on top. This year, Pakistan broke its own 14-year-old record when it crossed 200 polio cases.  According to the World Health Organisation, the country is at a “tipping point” as the remaining endemic countries in the world, Afghanistan and Nigeria have seen a significant decline in the number of cases in 2014.