Islamabad, December 15, 2012 (PPI-OT): A delegation comprising of representatives of international partners against Polio eradication today called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr. The delegation comprised of Mrs. Katharina Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director, Mr. Kalayan Banarjee, President Rotary International, Dr. Waqar Ajmal, Bill Gates and Melinda Foundation, Mr. Aziz Memon, Chairman Polio Plus Committee Rotary International , Dr. Guido Sabatinelli, WHO Representative Pakistan, and Mr. Dan Roharmann, Country Head UNICEF.
Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Chairperson President’s Polio Oversight Committee, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, SAPM on Social Sector and PM Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Ms. Nasreen Haque, Secretary to President, Mr. Zaid Usman, Additional Secretary, Dr. Altaf Bosan, National Coordinator PM Monitoring and Coordination Cell for Polio Eradication and other senior officials were also present during the meeting.
Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the current situation with regards to reported Polio cases in various parts of the country, steps taken for its eradication and the issues involved in fighting the disease were discussed during the meeting.
The delegation lauded the personal interest of the President towards efforts for eradicating the menace of Polio from the country. The participants also appreciated the role of Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali and the provincial chief ministers in overseeing the efforts for eliminating polio.
The meeting was informed that the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) adopted focused on greater ownership, oversight and accountability mechanism at the Federal, Provincial, District and gross root levels besides strategies to ensure access into the security sensitive areas. The meeting was informed that the Action Plan was being implemented with vigor with the assistance of all stake holders.
It was informed that campaign quality has witnessed significant improvement in its reach out to the children especially that of the far flung and inaccessible areas and Polio reach out had extended to 80 percent districts of the country with 95 percent coverage. The meeting was further informed that the number of polio cases this year as compared to last year have decreased considerably.
The President while appreciating the assistance and interest of the international partners in complementing Government’s efforts reiterated that eradication of Polio was the foremost priority of the Government. He said that we have made Polio eradication campaign a cross party issue and all the political parties and societal forces were now supporting the cause.
Discussing Polio situation in tribal areas and some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the President said that the Government was making efforts with the support of political and religious leaders and other notables of the areas to reach out even in those areas where inaccessibility and security issues had hampered polio eradication campaigns in the past.
During the meeting, the President also telephoned Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and requested him to meet the delegation to discuss issues related to resistance in Polio campaign by some on ideological grounds. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman said that the delegation is welcome to meet him later today. It was decided that a delegation comprising of Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Mrs. Katharina Hulshof, Mr. Kalayan Banarjee, Dr. Waqar Ajmal, Mr. Aziz Memon, Dr. Guido Sabatinelli, and Mr. Dan Roharmann would meet him tonight.
The meeting was also informed that under the guidance of the President a new transit strategy has been introduced to cover children moving out of and in to FATA. For this purpose Special Polio teams had been constituted. It was informed that 56 transit points have been established to reach these children.
It may be recalled that the President while chairing a meeting on Polio eradication in October had advised the provincial governments and the concerned authorities to consider setting up permanent booths at all transit points of the provinces. He gave this direction when his attention of the meeting was drawn towards the fact that migration of people was also a major reasons for many children being left unattended during the polio vaccination campaigns.
The President thanked the international community for complementing the Government’s efforts to save our children from the menace of Polio. He said that the Government, the people and the children of Pakistan were thankful to all our international partners who were providing every assistance including the development of eradication policies, implementation of the plans of action, providing training materials and public information and much more to help the Government in complete elimination of this disease from the country. The delegation thanked the President for meeting and assured their continued support in the cause of eradicating Polio from the country.
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