QUETTA: Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to batten down the hatches in their struggle to eradicate the polio virus from their bordering areas by increasing coordination between health workers.
“Officials of the two countries have agreed to administer polio drops to all children on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and to improve the coordination between the polio teams in bordering areas,” Balochistan’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) coordinator Dr Syed Saifur Rehman said in statement issued to the media.
Dr Rehman was speaking after a meeting with senior Afghan officials in Kabul. The meeting was also attended by Unicef, WHO and N-STOP officials. “Islamabad and Kabul will share data and improve cross border mapping,” he said. Dr Rehman said that he had informed Afghan officials that the virus found in Qilla Abdullah could be traced to the southern Afghan province of Helmand.
He said around 37,174 children, who crossed into Pakistan, were vaccinated in the month of February at six permanent checkpoints at Pakistan-Afghanistan border. “Our target is to improve the performance of Permanent Transit Points (PTP) along the border,” he said.
He said he was satisfied with the performance of the PTPs deployed in Pakistan’s bordering areas, especially at the Friendship Gate.
“I have issued clear directives to improve the performance of the officials on the Pakistani side,” he said, adding that it was necessary to improve the performance of the PTP to control the outbreak of the virus.
He said there are many houses or some villages which come under the jurisdiction of both countries.
“Which is why, I have requested the officials from across the border to help in vaccinating those children who are missed. Both countries will share our micro plans for improvement of polio campaigns,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2016.