WHO Says Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme A Failure

Islamabad: The World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has declared Pakistan’s polio eradication programme a failure.

According to a Pakistani media report, the experts associated with the programme have expressed serious concern over the revelations of many new polio cases in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, describing the situation in the province as a major obstacle towards polio eradication in the world.

The polio emergency centre in the province has no coordination with the federal centres, the report said.

The nodal officer for the polio eradication programme in the province, Babar Bin Atta, recently informed Voice of America (VOA) that he and his team are following the path suggested by the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to deal with the polio virus.

He said that since TAG is itself a part of the polio eradication programme, it is not right to just hold Pakistan responsible for this failure.

Members of the Technical Advisory Group visit the countries where polio has not been eradicated twice a year to take stock of the situation.

The number of polio cases detected in Pakistan this year has reached 62, the highest since 2015, health authorities said.

The number reached 62 after two more cases were reported on Sunday from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, according to media reports.

Of the 62 polio cases, 46 were detected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, six victims in Sindh, while Balochistan and Punjab reported five cases each, the authorities said.

Twelve cases were reported in 2018, while only eight children had tested positive for the virus in 2017.

There are only two countries in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio cases are still reported.

Pakistan remains under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the WHO due to which since 2014 every person travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate.