PESHAWAR: With the province recording two cases so far this year (including from the tribal areas), health officials are hopeful that by the time the International World Polio Day rolls around next year, the province and the country at large will be free of the virus.
This hope was expressed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Hasham Inamullah Khan on Wednesday as the international day was observed at the Chief Minister House in Peshawar.
Hasham pointed to the enormous achievements made in polio eradication by the government to bring the number of polio cases down from a countrywide high of 306 in 2014 to just six so far in 2018 while K-P had seen cases drop from 68 to just one during the same period.
The health minister reiterated his government’s commitment towards polio eradication, adding that they will make any and all efforts for a final push to eliminate the disease.
K-P Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said that while globally World Polio Day was marked to celebrate how the crippling disease had been defeated in their respective countries, Pakistan was still one of the two countries in the world where the disease was still endemic and the virus still posed a very real threat to children.
Pointing towards the large cohort of local body representatives in the event, Yousafzai said it demonstrated their support for the national cause. He hoped that they, being representatives of the people, will help remove misunderstandings against polio vaccination and defeat those elements who were working against the interests of the country and the people.
Emergency Operation Center (ECO) Coordinator Abid Wazir thanked Rotary International for organising the event, saying that it was an occasion to refresh our resolve and commitment towards polio eradication which was crippling the children of the country for their entire lives.
He added that it was unfortunate that while the world has eradicated the disease, only Pakistan and Afghanistan where the last two regions on earth where the wild poliovirus was still circulating in the environment.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2018.