ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation (WHO) is quite satisfied with the initial steps taken by the government of Pakistan to stop the spread of the wild poliovirus outside its borders. Dr Durry — who is currently in the United Kingdom — said he knew that Pakistan was doing a lot to prevent the export of polio. “It is very difficult to say that we have approved Pakistan’s request, but I believe that 15 days is not a long time. But Pakistan should continue to take steps to ensure that the international community is not affected by the poliovirus,” he said. WHO Pakistan Country Director Dr Nima Saeed Abid was also hopeful. “I’ve learned that polio vaccination is now under way in the Polyclinic in the federal capital, which is a positive step,” he said.
“The WHO is committed to facilitating the government of Pakistan and will continue supporting all the steps taken to implement WHO recommendations to protect the world from polio,” he added.
In a statement on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said the WHO had issued recommendations, otherwise referred to as International Health Regulations. “The issue has been a topic of discussion between Pakistan and the WHO since 2012. Our representatives have been attending meetings regularly to discuss the issue,” she said.
She said Pakistan had pointed out the difficulties faced with regard to the unstable security situation in certain areas, the threat of terrorism and attacks on polio workers among other factors.
To compound the problem, a vaccination campaign had been used as a cover to launch a military operation on Pakistani soil.
“I am referring to Dr Shakeel Afridi’s case. This further reinforced negative perceptions about the agenda behind the campaign to eradicate polio. We have been trying to overcome that; religious scholars have been involved to try and educate the population,” the FO spokesperson said.
Also on Thursday, a separate counter issuing polio vaccination certificates became operational at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).
Pims Vice-Chancellor Dr Javed Akram told reporters at his office that the cards would be issued to those intending to travel abroad.
“The counter is located at the Children’s Hospital, since we are short of space at the university hospital,” he said. The certificate will be free of cost and the counter will be operative from 8am to 2pm on weekdays and 8am to 12 noon on Friday,” he said.