Political will, commitment critical for polio eradication program success: WHO official
GPEI strategy committee meets Pakistan’s health officials
By News Desk
September 3, 2023 02:12 PM
Global Director for Polio Eradication at World Health Organization (WHO) Aidan O’Leary has termed the political will and commitment absolutely critical for the success of the polio eradication programme, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Aidan O’Leary met Caretaker Minister for Health Dr. Nadeem Jan on the visit of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI) Strategy Committee.
This was the first engagement between senior GPEI officials and the caretaker government.
In a meeting held at the Health Ministry, Dr Jan said, “It is important for us that our country and global partners and donors stand together in this final leg of the eradication journey.”
The Strategy Committee of the GPEI, chaired by O’Leary, is an executive committee set up to oversee the management and execution of the Polio Endgame Plan, that aims to achieve eradication by 2026.
“There is no time to waste. The Health Ministry will support any measure to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission by the global deadline at the end of 2023,” the minister added.
“I am a polio worker at heart. I will ensure that not only does polio remain a priority at all tiers of governance, but efforts are more targeted and intensified,” he stated.
Speaking after the meeting, O’Leary said, “Political will and commitment to get the job done is absolutely critical to the success of the programme.”
“We have been particularly impressed by the Health Minister’s very immediate and hands-on engagement with the Polio Programme.”
“We certainly look forward to continued advocacy and support.”
He said that the programme has been very successful in ensuring that virus circulation is not established with excellent outbreak responses to virus detection. “This must continue for us to be able to deliver on what is a critical goal not just for Pakistan but for the entire world.”
O’Leary is the head of the Strategy Committee and was accompanied by Dr. Richard Franka, the Pakistan Team Lead for Polio Eradication at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“To meet the goal of eradicating polio, Pakistan’s polio programme must enhance efforts to identify and vaccinate children who have not received polio vaccines, especially in areas experiencing conflict and insecurity,” Dr. Franka said.
During their three-day visit to Pakistan, the delegation also met the Engineer-in-Chief at the General Headquarters in Islamabad, the District Commissioner of Peshawar and the Health Minister of Sindh, among other key officials.