Public health: ‘Prevalence of polio perturbs international community’

WHO delegation urges government to do more for polio eradication.

Our Correspondent January 23, 2015
Action to eradicate polio is needed on a national level. PHOTO: AFP


World Health Organisation (WHO) Pakistan Director Michel Thierin said on Friday that more efforts were required to rid the nation of polio virus.

He was leading a WHO delegation that had called on Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique. Thierin said the organisation and the international community were perturbed regarding the presence of polio in the nation. He appreciated the initiatives taken by the government to eradicate polio in the province. Thierin commended the Health Department for taking special measures to prevent Ebola virus in the Punjab. He said the WHO and the international community attached great importance to polio eradication. Thierin said efforts in this regard should focus on conducting anti-polio campaigns and routine immunisations. He said the province had taken the lead regarding this by nominating Health Services Director General Zahid Pervaiz as the focal person for International Health Regulations.

Rafique said the government shared the concerns of the WHO and the international community. He said the government had been striving to eradicate the virus. Rafique said special arrangements had been made to guarantee the security of polio teams in the province. He stressed the need to convene an interprovincial conference under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to formulate a national policy to rid the nation of the scourge of polio. Rafique informed those present that the recommendations of a technical workshop held last month would be used to formulate an action plan to improve secondary healthcare in the province. He said the plan would be shared with the WHO and other development agencies after securing the approval of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Rafique said billions of rupees were required to revamp secondary health standards in the Punjab. He said funds were required to upgrade infrastructure, maintain bio-medical equipment and provide incentives to medical staff. Rafique said a spirited effort should be made to mount a comprehensive anti-polio campaign during the low polio season. He said all provinces should harness the potential of the season to rid the nation of polio. Rafique stressed the need to take national action on this front saying that polio could not be eradicated in any province in isolation.

Jamshed Ahmad of the WHO said the organisation had finished training 6,000 lady health workers in six districts of the province. He said 6,000 more lady health workers were being trained by the WHO currently.

Health Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik praised Thierin for cooperating over the holding of a workshop organised to formulate recommendations regarding secondary healthcare reforms.

Director General Zahid Pervaiz, Health Department Policy and Strategic Planning Unit (PSPU) Director Ali Bahadur Qazi and Yahya Gulzar, Aamir and Asif of the WHO were also present on the occasion.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2015.


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