Pak-Afghan officials agree on cooperation to eradicate polio

QUETTA: Health officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan on Friday put their heads together to discuss all ways and means to eradicate polio virus from the region.

Unicef organised a regional cross-border coordination seminar of health officials from both countries in Quetta.

According to Unicef 90 polio cases were recorded in Pakistan and only seven in Afghanistan during 2014.

An increase in the number of polio cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan prompted the UN organisation to abridge the differences between the two neighbors and bring their officials together to launch a combined effort to eradicate the polio virus.

“We will work together until polio virus is completely finished from the region,” Balochistan Health Minister Rehmat Baloch assured the Afghan delegation during the seminar.

According to Unicef statistics, Pakistan contributed 70 per cent polio cases to the world during the year 2014.

“The situation is very alarming,” Baloch said, adding that the present government was determined to ensure vaccination of kids below five years in the country.

However, during the last twenty months, no polio case has been reported from any part of Balochistan.

A total of 73 polio cases out of 198 in the country were recorded in Balochistan during the year 2011. This rise prompted the provincial government to double its efforts to eradicate the virus.

Nonetheless, confirmation of a positive polio case in southern Afghanistan and a constant presence of the virus in environmental samples of Quetta appears to be alarming.

“The virus can be only eradicated through coordinated efforts,” Abdul Qayoum Pokhla, the Kandahar health chief said.

He emphasised upon the need for the health ministries of both countries to closely work for eradication of the virus under the umbrella of Uunicef.

“An estimated 800 children are vaccinated at the Pak-Afghan border during the campaign,” Rehmat Baloch informed the seminar.

Participants of the seminar agreed to boost cooperation in the future with an object to eradicate the polio virus.