Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to formulate a joint strategy on polio eradication in the region, official sources announced yesterday.
The agreement came during a meeting of Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Ayesha Raza Farooq and Director General of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health Dr Taufiq Mashal with the core polio eradication teams of the two countries.
The participants reviewed the current polio situation in the Pak-Afghan border areas and discussed ways to scale up coordination and collaboration on polio eradication and improve the cross-border routine immunisation coverage.
“Polio eradication is a top priority for both governments. And today’s meeting is a symbol of our collective efforts and commitment to ensure that the transmission of polio virus is stopped in both countries and globally,” said Ayesha Raza. By now this year, Pakistan has recorded 27 new polio cases and Afghanistan three.
And most of these cases are reported in border areas.
The prime minister’s focal person for polio eradication said Pakistan and Afghanistan shared more than a 2000 kilometres porous border with a large population movement between both countries on a daily basis, which could lead to the shared circulation of the poliovirus.
She said there had been a significant progress towards polio eradication in southern Afghanistan and Balochistan.
Ayesha Raza, however, said the region remained at risk due to possible pockets of children missing polio vaccination due to inaccessibility, insecurity and sub-optimal quality of campaigns.