Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq appreciates and reinforces Canada’s commitment to support polio eradication in Pakistan as well as its continued championship of the programme vis-à-vis other donors.

            She made these remarks while briefing a high-level Canadian delegation comprising of David Hartman, Director General of Global Affairs Canada, Joseph Sebhatu, Daniel Joly, Head of Development Cooperation and First Secretary Development at National Emergency operation Centre on Wednesday.

            The Senator apprised the delegation that Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for polio eradication in Pakistan highly appreciated the programme’s progress in its recent meeting just held last week. The TAG commended the high-level government commitment led by the Prime Minister for the cause and tremendous support of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies for ensuring access to all children in every corner of the country especially in security compromised areas. The TAG endorsed all the strategies outlined in NEAP 2017-18 including the SIAs schedule for the remainder of low season. The TAG recommended to continue the intense focus on the current hotspots to wipe out the virus from these zones to reach the goal of interruption.

            She said that government leadership is fully committed to the National Emergency Action Plan, implemented via focused Emergency Operations Centers at National and Provincial levels, with emphasis on evidence-based decision making, a “one-team” approach, front-line workers at the center of the polio eradication effort, effective oversight of performance management and accountability, and a commitment to coordinate with Afghanistan in order to reach and vaccinate high-risk groups. The Honourable Prime Minister is providing personal leadership and oversight to the programme and has convened multiple meetings on polio in last few months including meeting of the National Task Force.

            The senator said that as a result of efforts Pakistan has made so far, the current polio epidemiology remains the best we have ever seen in the country. The number of cases has declined from 306 in 2014 to 53 in 2015, and to 20 in 2016. So far this year, the number of polio cases reported in Pakistan are six; 2 from Karachi (Sindh) and one each from Lodhran (Punjab), Diamer (GB), Killa Abdullah (Balochistan) and Lakki Marwat (KP) compared to 19 reported by 6th December in 2016 (indicating a 68% decline). All of these cases have been contained through aggressive outbreak response.

            David Hartman, Director General of Global Affairs Canada appreciated the progress made by Pakistan Polio Programme by saying that “Canada remains a proud donor to GPEI and will continue to do so until “the job is done”. Commending the tremendous turn around Pakistan polio programme has made in the past couple of years, David Hartman said that Canada will be a willing partner till the job the finished. He said that under the Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) we recognize that supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is imperative to build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world. He said that since Pakistan polio eradication programme works with thousands of female front-line workers – almost 58% workforce is female, FIAP aims to support that with the greatest potential to close gender gaps and improve everyone’s chance for success. But it also works across other action areas that reflect the multidimensional nature of poverty, in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. Working in this way aims to lead to better development results and benefits everyone, including men and boys.