The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) expressed serious concerns towards the prevailing and increasing cases of poliovirus in Pakistan.
According to the latest assessment of the global polio eradication programme, if Pakistan does not adopt transformative measures to eradicate the virus from the country in the next six months, the situation could become dire.
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The report further told that wild poliovirus may spread and cases are expected to increase up to at least 500 by the end of 2020, also warning that vaccine-derived poliovirus cases reaching 1,000. Now is the utmost need to take immediate action against the poliovirus as its eradication is need of the time or else the wheels will come off the Pakistan bus. Pakistan needs to make changes to its implementation strategies according to the 18th IMB report.
According to the report, “Unless renewed, well-planned and sustained polio vaccination is resumed for the remainder of 2020, the consequences of the inevitable large outbreaks of both kinds of poliovirus will be dire for Pakistan, Afghanistan and probably other countries as well.”
Along with the National Emergency Operations Centre Coordination and representatives from the Pakistan Army, Zafar Mirza the former special assistant to the PM gave a detailed briefing to the IMB team. However, there is no focal person to the Prime Minister for polio eradication in the country and so it would be difficult for Mirza to deal with poliovirus eradication along with his other workload.
The report further states, “In November 2019 meeting, Mirza had announced that he would bring all political parties and interests together for a regular meeting at national level. However, later the doctor told the board that no formal meeting of this kind has yet taken place, citing change in his approach to engaging with the political leadership through ‘behind the scenes’ strategy”.
“This sends a confusing message about the government’s ability and determination to create an unambiguous and non-partisan commitment to everything necessary for success in polio eradication.”
The report also said Pakistan to take immediate steps towards the eradication of this virus as the country is among few those countries where poliovirus is still present.