Islamabad, December 18, 2012 (PPI-OT): Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has reiterated the resolve of the government that it would not rest until the country is rid of polio.
This the Prime Minister said while chairing a meeting of Polio Task Force at the PM’s Secretariat this afternoon.
The Prime Minister said “We cannot and would not allow polio to wreak havoc the lives of our children”. Seeking a polio-free life is the fundamental right of our people and we would not allow polio to plague their lives, he added.
The Prime Minister said that Polio-free Pakistan is the cherished goal of the government. “This is the least we owe to our children and we would stay the course unless polio is wiped out from the country” said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister recalled that since 1994 when anti-polio drive was launched for the first time by Shaheed Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan has come a long way from having 20,000 polio cases in 1994 to 56 cases in 2012. It indeed is a great stride forward, he added.
The Prime Minister however pointed out that the very fact that Pakistan is one of few countries where polio still exists should only strengthens our resolve to leave no stone unturned to banish polio from the country.
The Prime Minister appreciated the personal interests of President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and UNIESCO Ambassador for Polio Eradication, Ms. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari for her inspiring leadership and commitment for the eradication of polio in the country.
The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction over the fact that improved coordination has played its role in reducing the problem of accessibility. He lauded establishment of special vaccination points at to ensure that each child moving in and out of FATA is immunized against the polio virus.
The Prime Minister also expressed satisfaction over the acknowledgment by Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative its report in June 2012 regarding the efforts in Pakistan which has shown marked improvement. This was an endorsement of our strategy and measures taken in this regard, he added.
The Prime Minister said that government has involved religious scholars, District Khateebs and Parliamentarians as part of effective communication strategy to achieve optimum results of anti-polio campaigns. He said that this policy of engagement has been quite successful .
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf stressed on the need to neutralize the message of those who resist the government’s efforts of immunization against polio. He called on participation of Media, political parties, civil society organizations and opinion leaders to play their role to raise public awareness and promote advocacy of the cause.
The Prime Minister stressed the need to improvise the polio campaigns from time to time in the light of new experiences and changing local conditions. He also urged on the need to further strengthen coordination at various tiers to achieve results. This is where National Task Force on Polio Eradication has a job cut out for itself, the Prime Minister observed.
The Prime Minister also commended the cooperation of global partners such as WHO, Rotary International, Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation, and UNICEF for their support and technical expertise in the fight against polio. “Without their support, we could not have come this far” he added.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf also strongly condemned the attack on polio field workers in Karachi and Peshawar in which woman workers lost their lives. He also expressed deep shock and grief over their death.
The Prime Minister while paying rich tribute to the services rendered by the polio field teams said that they have been instrumental in wiping out the disease from the country.
The Prime Minister also ordered the concerned authorities to conduct an enquiry into the incidents and bring the real culprits to book.
The Prime Minister also ordered the interior Ministry to coordinate with the national polio eradication authorities and provide foolproof security to the polio teams.
The Prime Minister expressed the resolve the take every step for the complete eradication of polio from the country.
The meeting was informed that 34 million children would be covered under the National Emergency Plan 2013 which will involve over 25000 polio workers.
The meeting was attended by Minister for IPC, Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani, SAPM, Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Governor KPK, Masood Kausar, Minister of State for Commerce, Mr. Abbas Khan Afridi, MNA, Ms, Asma Arbab Alamgir, Chief Secretaries Punjab, KPK, Representatives from International Donors, Ambassador of Japan and other senior government officials.
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