Pak-Afghan officials study ways to curb polio

Delegates see need for closer coordination between Islamabad and Kabul.


Shezad Baloch July 12, 2014

QUETTA:


Extensive movement across the porous Pakistan and Afghanistan border is one of the major challenges in controlling the crippling poliovirus in both countries, as these groups sustain the poliovirus circulation and spread the virus from one area to another, delegates said.


A two-day regional cross-border coordination meeting on polio eradication was held between Balochistan and southern Afghanistan officials in Quetta in collaboration with Unicef.

The meeting was aimed at improving coordination between Islamabad and Kabul in ensuring improved quality of vaccination in cross-border villages, and for establishing transit vaccination points.

A total of 26 officials from Southern Region Afghanistan and Kabul participated in the event.

Participants said it was alarming that more than 70 per cent of the polio cases recorded in 2014 were from Pakistan.

“An estimated 800 children are vaccinated at Pakistan- Afghanistan Friendship Gate every day,” said Balochistan Health Minister Rehmat Baloch.

Although no case of polio virus has been detected in Balochistan for the past 20 months, there has been confirmation of a positive case in southern Afghanistan recently.

“Both countries are facing similar issues. It is nearly impossible to fight this virus alone,” said Kandahar Health Director Dr Abdul Qayum Pokhala.

“We need to work together to ensure each child across the border or living in cross-border villages is immunised,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2014.

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