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Text of speech delivered by Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, at the Polio Summit 2012

Islamabad: Following is the text of the speech delivered by Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Minister for Inter- Provincial Coordination in the Polio Summit 2012 inaugurated by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, here today. says a press release received here today from New Delhi.

Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, addressed the session “Seeking Polio Free World – Progress and the way forward” of the Summit as the Guest of Honour.

The Summit was jointly organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Rotary International.

Text of the Speech Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani

“Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a matter of immense pleasure for me to address this galaxy of public health professionals, who have assembled here to deliberate on ways and means of eradicating poliomyelitis from the face of the earth.

Pakistan is one of the four endemic countries which are seriously engaged in a relentless struggle to fight this crippling disease. Whereas India, which is one of the most populous countries of this region, has done a marvellous job by bringing the number of polio cases to zero during the last one year, we are doing our best to follow its footprints and rid Pakistan of Polio. There are multiple factors which are creating hurdles in the way of our Polio Eradication effort.

One major obstacle is Pakistan’s fight against terror which has made a number of areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Provinces bordering Afghanistan as highly volatile. Resultantly it is not possible for the health workers and vaccinators to reach all children in all areas to administer polio drops to them.

Apart from this, large influx of population out of the troubled areas and routine seasonal migration from one region of the country to another provides an easy opportunity to poliovirus to travel from endemic districts to the districts which are free from polio.

Pakistan has been doing its utmost to surmount these problems through better micro-planning and implementation of anti-polio campaigns. I am sure that this forum will surely provide an opportunity for polio endemic countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan to interact with India to learn from its experiences in reaching the goal of zero case of Polio.

We would also like to know about India’s experiences in raising its routine immunization coverage which is the backbone not only of Polio Eradication but also Elimination of Measles and Neo-natal Tetanus.

It is a matter of serious concern for us that despite our best efforts, the number of polio cases in Pakistan has been going up for the last three years. Last year, there were 198 confirmed polio cases. As we have marched into the year 2012, the number of polio cases confirmed by the Polio Lab so far has gone up to 11. This is a dismal picture. We invite the planners and managers from all over the world to assist us in curbing this menace.

I thank the organizers of this Summit for inviting me and giving me time to share Pakistan’s concern with particular reference to the Global Goal of Polio Eradication. I believe that the Summit will deliberate on the problems and constraints of the endemic countries and will come up with workable plans and recommendations by which the goal of Polio Eradication could be achieved.

I Thank You All.

Pakistan Paindabad”

Note: The video coverage is available at the web site of Reuters India under the story No. 6061 and slug of “India: Pakistan/Polio”.

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