WHO commends Pakistan’s efforts to restrict polio virus

ISLAMABAD:World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region Dr Mahmoud Fikri on Thursday commended the tireless efforts of Pakistan for complete elimination of polio virus from the country.

Addressing a press conference here alongwith Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region Dr Mahmoud Fikri said that Pakistan has been striving hard to restrict polio transmission.

He said that all stakeholders including the government and people of Pakistan were working jointly against polio.

He also appreciated the other initiatives in health sector taken by the Pakistan and said that raodmap is clear in Pakistan. He acknowledged the launching of Pakistan’s Hepatitis Strategic Framework 2017-2021 and Prime Minister Health Insurance Scheme.

He expressed appreciation on the effective role of Pakistan in implementation of WHO’s plans and guidelines. He added the government of Pakistan was working with WHO in many health initiatives.

Dr Fikri urged the member states to develop and endorse national action plan in alignment with the global action plan, establish a high-level coordination mechanism and allocating adequate resources and to develop and enforce policies and regulations to prevent purchase of antibiotics without prescription.

He said that several important health topics were discussed in the regional conference. He added the regional committee endorsed a regional framework for action on cancer prevention and control to scale up guidance to member states.

He added the regional committee also endorsed a framework for action on climate change and health to guide the health sector response to climate change, in collaboration with other health determining sectors and build the resilience of health sector.

Saira Afzal Tarrar termed the 64th Regional Committee meeting of World Health Organization (WHO) as big achievement for Pakistan, which helped enhancing the positive image of the country.

The minister said that the conference has been unprecedented in terms of its scale with 21 countries participating led by Health Ministers and senior leaderships from the participating countries.

She added that it will be helpful in enhancing the prestige and image of the country. The participant’s perceptions of Pakistan have changed.

She said that this regional conference has been hailed as one of the best held so far in the region that stretches from Pakistan and Afghanistan in South Asia to middle east and North Africa.

She said “we have overcome to fatal diseases particular contracted to children and adolescent girls.” She added Pakistan is moving forward towards complete eradication of polio.

She informed that Pakistan has presented its key initiatives taken during the last four years in this regional conference. In the session on Social Protection Pakistan presented its Prime Minister’s National Health Program which is providing cashless high quality health services to the poorest of the poor.

The initiative was highly appreciated as a model for social and health equity. Regional countries expressed keen interest in replicating this model in their respective countries.

She said that Pakistan shared its progress in the polio eradication Initiative and elaborated the transition plan post eradication. Despite major challenges the country’s progress in stopping polio was appreciated by the region, she added.

She said that Pakistan led Assistive Technology session calling upon countries of the region to ensure that assistive devices are available to all persons with disabilities. Upon Pakistan’s initiative the regional committee adopted declaration on assistive devices. It was agreed to include access to assistive technology as part of universal health coverage, she added.

She said that it was decided that the first regional meeting on assistive devices will be convened in Pakistan which is a great honor for the country. A resource centre on assistive technologies will be established.

She added data on unmet needs of assistive technologies will also be collected. Pakistan will lead efforts to bring a resolution on assistive technologies in WHO Executive Board meeting being held in January 2018.

She said that improvements made by Pakistan in mother and child immunization were shared with the regional committee. Significant progress in up scaling coverage and ensuring sustainability of services was highly appreciated, she added.