LONDON: High Commissioner Mohammad Nafees Zakaria has said Pakistan deeply appreciates the support extended by our international partners in fight against Polio including Rotary International; Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization; United Nations Foundation; and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He was addressing at a Reception arranged in honour of Mr Mark Maloney, President of Rotary International, at the High Commission on 11 March 2020. The event was jointly organized by World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis and the High Commission.
Besides Mrs and Mr. Mark Maloney, President of Rotary International the Reception was attended by Ms. Susan Elden, Senior Health Advisor, DFID UK, Mr. Aziz Memon, Chairman Pakistan National Polio plus Committee, Ms. Judith of Rotary International, Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, office bearers of Conservative Friends of Pakistan, representatives of World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP), members of the British and Pakistani community and media persons.
The High Commissioner said Government of Pakistan is fully alive to the challenges posed by this crippling disease and the Polio Eradication Programme has been fighting to end this disease from the country. He apprised the guests that the programme is driven by up to 260,000 polio vaccinators, the largest health service provider network of its kind in the world. As envisaged in the National Emergency Action Plan of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme (NEAP), the goal is zero-polio in the country, he added. Mr Zakaria informed that the progress on the NEAP is directly reported to the Prime Minister.
Giving an update on the disease, the High Commissioner said due to sustained vaccination drives, there has been a significant decline in polio cases in Pakistan. He said door-to-door vaccination campaign is expected to bring the number of polio cases down to zero, very soon.
The High Commissioner appreciated the Conservative Friends of Pakistan and WCOP for their role in putting together the event.
Mr Mark Maloney, President of Rotary International gave an overview of the efforts of Rotary International in eradicating polio from the world and its enhanced focus on Pakistan. He acknowledged the commitment of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government in eliminating polio from the country. He also appreciated Pakistan for allocating $160million fund for the cause. Mr Maloney said although polio incidence has been reduced by 99.99 percent globally, the dream of polio free world is yet to be achieved for which global commitment must continue.
Mr. Aziz Memon, Chairman Pakistan National Polio plus Committee informed the audience that polio eradication is among the priorities of the government and things are in right place to achieve the goal.
Ms. Susan Elden, Senior Health Advisor DFID UK said elimination of polio in the world is a lofty goal and appreciated the efforts of Rotary International to this effect throughout the Commonwealth countries. She said the UK government under DfID program for Pakistan has allocated funds which shows its commitment to socio-economic development of Pakistan.
Syed Qamar Raza of Conservative Friends of Pakistan expressed full support of the expatriate community to eliminate polio from Pakistan. He also appreciated the good work of Rotary International in Pakistan and elsewhere.
Ms. Judith of Rotary International also gave brief remarks in accordance with the occasion.
The speakers lauded the role of Pakistan’s security forces in administering polio vaccination in difficult areas of Pakistan. On this occasion, the bravery and dedication of the polio workers of Pakistan was appreciated and one minute silence was observed in the memory of those who lost their lives in terrorist attacks while carrying out the vaccination campaign.
Mr Mark Maloney, President of Rotary International and other speakers appreciated the High Commissioner for bringing together the key stakeholders of such an important cause. Dr Arif Anees Malik of WCOP conducted the event.