By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Dr Robert S Scott Chair, International Polio Plus, Rotary International and Aziz Memon, Chair, Pakistan Polio Plus, Rotary International, have urged the government to take steps to re-establish the essential functions that were previously undertaken by the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring and Coordination Cell in the interest of the children of the country.
In a letter addressed to the Caretaker Prime Minister, Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, with a copy sent to the Prime Minister-in waiting, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the Rotary officials have regretted the recent closure of the Prime Minister’s Polio Monitoring Cell, merged with the old system, which is incapable of delivering routine immunization or running the Polio Eradication Initiative, due to serious administrative issues.
The senior Rotary officials have drawn the attention of the concerned authorities towards the particular deficiencies of the EPI were highlighted by the Federal Ombudsman in his recent ‘Report on Measles Outbreak in Pakistan.’
‘The decision to close the Monitoring Cell was done in haste, without giving any thought to future action or implementation. The programme will stall key initiatives taken by the polio cell to completely stop transmission of polio from Pakistan by the end of 2013,” they said in a jointly signed letter sent to the Office of the Prime Ministers.
“Eradication of Polio is a global priority. Pakistan, being one of the only three polio endemic countries of the world, is under intense pressure from the international community to take drastic steps for eradication of this disease and actively contribute in the Global Eradication of Polio,” Scott and Memon stated.
“The Government of Pakistan in collaboration with partner agencies approved the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) for Polio Eradication with responsibilities of implementation to the District Administration,” they added.
“To achieve this objective, the Government of Pakistan had in 2011, established a Cell known as the Prime Minister's Polio Monitoring & Coordination Cell, to monitor and coordinate efforts being made at the National and International level on Polio Eradication. In addition the PM monitoring cell also assisted the National Task Force on Polio Eradication headed by the Prime Minister,” the Rotary officials recalled.
“The Cell comprised of Public Health Specialists and Experts in Polio Eradication. It has achieved major success, and witnessed tremendous progress in this area, which has been recognised and appreciated by the International Health Forums like the World Health Assembly and the Independent Monitoring Board based in London. Due to untiring efforts, polio cases have dropped from 198 in 2011 to 58 cases in 2012 and 9 cases in 2013,” they concluded.