Executive Committee of National Task Force on Polio Eradication headed by its Coordinator / Minister of State for National Health Services Ms Saira Afzal Tarar, called on the Prime Minister in PM House today. Dr Altaf Bosan, PM’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell, Ms Ayesha Reza Farooq, Prime Minister Focal Person on Polio Eradication and other members of Task Force were also present at the occasion.
Prime Minister, while talking to the coordinator of Task Force reiterated strongest commitment of his government to protect the children from polio and eventually eradicating this disease from the country. He further said that Government of Pakistan has declared polio eradication a health emergency.
PM stated that it is matter of grave concern that there is a possibility of travel restrictions being imposed on Pakistanis since virus from Pakistan has been found linked to polio cases in other countries. Since it is a question of honor, image and prestige of our country, we must redouble our efforts to eradicate Polio from our country, PM added.
Prime Minister stressed the need to strictly implement the Polio Eradication Action Plan with zero tolerance for inefficiency, negligence and under performance in the Anti-Polio campaigns.
Prime Minister expressed his deep concern over the incidence of polio cases in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He expressed his resolve that every measure possible to ensure that every child is reached with polio vaccine. It is the responsibility of the Government to protect the health and well being of every child in the country and we cannot be found wanting or be deterred on any account in performance of this noble task, he added.
Prime Minister said that, as regards the situation of FATA, I am aware that a special civil-military co-ordination mechanism is in place. However, we need to ensure that challenges in North and South Waziristan where a ban is clamped on polio campaigns by certain groups, are met with locally appropriate solutions and in accordance with local traditions and norms. We need to find solutions in cooperation with the security forces, the tribal elders and local influentials to allow vaccination in the interest of their own children, he further stated.
Prime Minister expressed his sadness at the incidents of violence including attacks on polio workers and police officials protecting them. We cannot allow anyone to target those working to protect the health of our children he added. He urged the Provincial Governments to take every possible measure to provide security cover to those performing this important task. Prime Minister said that he would ask all the Chief Ministers to personally monitor the Polio campaign in their areas and provide ample protection to the polio workers.
He further said that it is clear that opposition to polio vaccination by some elements is politically motivated and there is no religious dimension to it. In fact our great religion Islam calls upon the faithful to protect the vulnerable and save humanity from disability and suffering.
Prime Minister expressed his pleasure to the fact that religious leaders are now fully engaged with over 730 Religious scholars from all schools of thought pledging support to the initiative.
Prime Minister directed the all concerned to implement National Emergency Action Plan with true spirit and ensure accountability.
Earlier PM was briefed by National Task Force on Polio Eradication on its efforts and activities towards polio eradication. The Prime Minister was told that in each of the National polio drives, around 34 million children are being vaccinated depicting Pakistan’s commitment.
He was told that under the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication, oversight and accountability at the Federal, Provincial, District and Union Council levels has been introduced to ensure that campaigns are of the highest quality