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Canadian Parliamentarians appreciates Pakistan progress in fight against polio

Islamabad, April 09, 2018 (PPI-OT): Prime Ministers Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq has appreciated the continued support from the government and people of Canada for Pakistan’s polio eradication effort. Welcoming a parliamentary delegation comprising of members from both the Commons and Senate of Canada at the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, Senator Farooq said our collective efforts have led to tremendous strides in Pakistan’s journey towards polio-free status.

We are now closer than ever to succeeding and we are committed to driving this virus out of our nation with continued resolve, focus and determination. Canada has been a true friend of Pakistan; not only inside Pakistan through the very engaged High Commission team, but also at the global level. We are also grateful for your proactive advocacy at the global level in support of polio eradication in Pakistan. She said. National Coordinator of the Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar briefed the Canadian delegation on the progress made by the programme over the past recent years.

The delegation appreciated the progress and expressed keen interest in the programmes ability to transform public health in Pakistan and finding other technical areas where Canada could further strengthen the Polio programme in particular and public health system in general. Between 2016 to 2018, Canada has given 40 million CAD to the Pakistan polio eradication programme. This generous support helped the programme implement introduce improvements across the board, including advancements to surveillance structure, ComNet structure, Community Based Vaccination, monitoring of campaigns, and capacity building of polio eradication workforce.

The government of Pakistan is fully committed to the implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan via focused Emergency Operations Centers at national and provincial levels, with emphasis on evidence-based decision making, a one-team approach, front-line workers at the center of the eradication effort, effective oversight of performance management and accountability, and a commitment to coordinate with Afghanistan in order to reach and vaccinate high-risk groups.

Briefing the delegated Dr Rana Safdar said that at the end of 2017 Pakistan achieved a 97% drop of cases from the dire situation of 304 in 2014, 54 in 2015 and 20 in 2016. In 2018, Pakistan registered one case till this time. The response to the new case is currently underway with the objective of protecting other children in the community, and stopping circulation of the virus. One of the key interventions that has helped programme to register lowest ever cases has been the massive investment in our frontline workers.

They are local to their communities, well trained and empowered, who have earned the trust of the communities. These committed have helped in reaching the most marginalized and hardest to reach communities. Each nation-wide round these frontline workers aim to reach approximately 39 million children with the polio vaccine. Presenting a note of thanks on behalf of the delegation, Murray Rankin, a senior parliamentarian from Victoria appreciated the progress made by Pakistan Polio Programme, saying Canada remains a proud partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and will continue to do so until the job is done.

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