Major political and religious parties on Wednesday reaffirmed their support and commitment towards making Pakistan polio free and expressed solemn aim to include the eradication of polio as one of the salient agendas of their manifestos for the next general election.
Speaking at a briefing on polio emergency organised by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat), the lawmakers from major political parties agreed to enact legislation to mandate polio vaccination for every child.
Coordinator National Emergency Operation Centre Dr Shahzad Baig apprised the lawmakers about the current situation of polio in Pakistan. “We are very close to eradicating polio and sustained efforts are needed to achieve the objective,” he said.
Parliamentary Secretary Health Dr Nausheen Hamid said the number of polio infections had substantially decreased in the country, informing that, thus far, only a single case was reported from Killa Abdullah in Balochistan.
However, giving a caveat over the situation, she said that the virus was still around and can infect people at any time, warning that the positive image cannot be an excuse to stop taking preventive measures.
Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Ayesha Raza Farooq laid stress on respecting and paying tribute to the polio workers who have been relentlessly saving lives regardless of the odds and dangers they confront in their drives. “They have been protecting the lives of our children by endangering their own,” she added.
She said that to address the problem a bill was crucial that would, along with the polio vaccine, make all the 11 required vaccines mandatory for children.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Shakeel Abbasi said that leading Islamic scholars need to be taken on board to publicly push for the importance of eradicating polio.
Concurring with the suggestion, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Faisal Sabzwari pointed out that the religious political parties could play their role more effectively to address the matter on a socio-cultural level.
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