Polio endemic: Pakistan to fight threat of travel ban

Published: February 6, 2014
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Imam-e-Kaaba. PHOTO: SHAHBAZ MALIK

Imam-e-Kaaba. PHOTO: SHAHBAZ MALIK

ISLAMABAD: 

The government has sought the assistance of the Imam-e-Kaaba in order to address misconceptions about the polio vaccine.

Minister of States for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar told The Express Tribune that she is actively pursuing the proposed visit of the Imam-e-Kaaba with the presidency.

“I have a follow up meeting in the Presidency on Thursday to discuss all the modalities of this high-profile visit. We need to remove the misconceptions on the polio vaccination” she said.

Plans for the visit are being chalked out as a two-day conference in Geneva kicked off on Wednesday where international experts are considering travel restrictions on Pakistan in order to curb the spread of the virus.

Tarar said Pakistan’s government is cognizant of the threat of international restrictions on travel due to the virus and said the PM’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Ayesha Raza Farooq is in Geneva to defend Pakistan’s case.

India was declared polio-free in 2009 and announced in December last year that Pakistanis travelling to the country will be required to present a vaccination certificate. According to officials of the Indian High Commission, travel restrictions on Pakistan will be effective from February 14. Pakistani visitors, regardless of their age, will have to get an oral polio vaccination at least six weeks prior to travel to India.

Georgia has now followed suit and Pakistanis will be required to carry vaccination records at all times in order to enter the former Soviet republic, an official of the PM’s polio eradication cell told The Express Tribune.

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There are concerns that if such restrictions are imposed under the aegis of the WHO, Pakistan will have to bear a significant financial and administration cost as every Pakistani travelling abroad will have to carry a vaccination certificate.

Tarar also plans to meet with Irfan Siddiqui, a member of the government’s committee in talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, as she says the government will include a clause regarding an end to attacks on polio vaccination teams in the talks.

“No anti-polio campaign has been conducted in North and South Waziristan for the past two years,” officials of the PM’s polio cell said. After the outcome of the Geneva meeting, the government will come up with a new strategy to deal with the issue, Tarar added.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • rizkhan
    Feb 6, 2014 - 10:32AM

    This is getting insane. Where is the writ of the govt. Now govt cant even control polio drive? TTP is getting that strong or we have chickens running the govt.
    Enough of this. PTI and Fedearal and all or provincial govts MUST take action.

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  • Sodomite
    Feb 6, 2014 - 10:35AM

    Not a long wait now. We wont be able to travel anywhere. Not that it matters as everyone is a dual national. Do you think we may require an immunization permit for Terrorism as well?? May Allah be Praised.

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  • Feb 6, 2014 - 10:49AM

    Polio is a curse of a disease and completely avoidable. Its very unfortunate and even devastating if it is not stopped because of one single country.

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  • Ali Abbasi
    Feb 6, 2014 - 10:55AM

    A well-deserved insult of our own making. What on earth does the Imam-e-Kaaba have to do with polio eradication? Clear side effects of our own government/nation’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their own country.

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  • Khan g
    Feb 6, 2014 - 11:38AM

    This was bound to happen!!!
    Islam abused by ttp

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  • Raj - USA
    Feb 6, 2014 - 12:04PM

    It is my view that religion can always be used to promote a destructive cause successfully and has seldom been successful in promoting a desirable cause.

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  • Xulfjan
    Feb 6, 2014 - 12:14PM

    Hahaha!!

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  • objective observer
    Feb 6, 2014 - 1:14PM

    We did not care enough about the deaths of people that would occur from the disease in the tribal areas. Now we have to show certificates for travel? Something needs to be done pronto.

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  • Parvez
    Feb 6, 2014 - 1:24PM

    ….so now its coming out in open as to who’s behind most of our troubles.

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  • jami
    Feb 6, 2014 - 2:21PM

    Yes Imam e Kaaba will eradicate polio by gnashing his highly polished teeth.Recommend

  • NITS
    Feb 6, 2014 - 2:48PM

    another distinction in the world: Epicenter of Polio !Recommend

  • thruthseeker
    Feb 6, 2014 - 3:50PM

    This is good, there are people in Pakistan who are eager to fight for a good cause. Now someone needs to tell them, where to fight and who the enemy is.Recommend

  • bel
    Feb 6, 2014 - 4:36PM

    pakistan don’t need polio or any western medicine. we have allah and source of all knowledge- ‘koran’. just reading it and praying for allah can solve any existing problems in this world. – my experience.Recommend

  • yossarian
    Feb 6, 2014 - 4:49PM

    The entire country is a joke. And it wants Kashmir on top of this.Recommend

  • bel
    Feb 6, 2014 - 4:57PM

    this time, polio will be eradicated within months. efforts from such a respected, blessed believers never go in vain. inshallahRecommend

  • Polioisharam
    Feb 6, 2014 - 7:09PM

    Polio vaccination should be banned till US spies are working in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 6, 2014 - 7:29PM

    @yossarian:
    Why don’t you joker join us and have a field day. Recommend

  • Hafiz
    Feb 6, 2014 - 7:31PM

    expecting soon China also declared it.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 6, 2014 - 7:31PM

    This is all the part of the Psy-ops and fourth generation ‘cold war doctrine’. People need to read about it through Google search.Recommend

  • Faceoff
    Feb 6, 2014 - 7:33PM

    Polio – no mint with the hole.Recommend

  • rkfrom ny
    Feb 6, 2014 - 11:52PM

    …………………..what does ur book say about this..???

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  • truthbetold
    Feb 7, 2014 - 7:59AM

    What good is a vaccination certificates from a country where every law maker gets a fake degree certificate. Worse, even fake passports and visas can be arranged for the right price in Pakistan. How difficult would that be to produce a fake vaccination certificate. How would one prevent an unscrupulous doctor or medical facility issuing a certificate for money without administering the vaccine?

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  • truthbetold
    Feb 7, 2014 - 10:11AM

    How difficult would that be to produce a fake vaccination certificate? How would one prevent an unscrupulous doctor or medical facility issuing a certificate for money without administering the vaccine? What good is a vaccination certificates from a country where every law maker gets a fake degree certificate. Worse, even fake passports and visas can be arranged for the right price in Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • genesis
    Feb 7, 2014 - 7:14PM

    @Raj – USA:
    No wonder,religion ,the opium of the masses and is rightfully interpreted and used by extremists.

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  • genesis
    Feb 7, 2014 - 7:17PM

    @bel:
    Get well soon and may god bless you in your crisis.do not meet doctors or go to a hospital in an emergency.Unfortunately elsewhere in the world they do not think so.

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  • Fouzia A.Rahman
    Apr 27, 2014 - 5:20PM

    As of April 2014 Pakistan reported 49 cases of wild polio out of the total 53 cases of 2014 (> 90%) reported by 3 polio endemic countries viz. Pakistan. Afghanistan and Nigeria.Pakistan is the only endemic country where reported cases increased in the current year, there were 93 and 58 cases reported in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

    An unpredictable security situation country wide is affecting the performance of polio teams. Childtren in North and South Waziristan are not currently being immunized.

    We need to take this matter seriously as a nation. The 11 South Asian countries have been certified free of polio in March 2014 and India has imposed compulsory polio vaccination for travellers coming from Pakistan.

    It is a matter of national prestige and pride.

    Recommend

  • Fouzia A.Rahman
    Apr 27, 2014 - 5:31PM

    As per WHO sources out of 3 polio endemic countries namely Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan the later reported 92 % cases in 2014 (as of April 2014). The 3 endemic countries reported 53 cases out of 49 cases were from Pakistan.

    On March 27, 2014 WHO certified the 11 nations of South Asia including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste polio free. With this certification 80% of the world’s population now lives in polio-free certified Regions which include the Americas. Western Pacific, Europe and South Asia. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last two countries of Eastern Mediteranian Region which are not yet polio free. While in African Region Nigeria is the last country where wild polio transmission is not interuppted yet

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