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Pakistan, Afghanistan to boost anti-polio cooperation
Publication Date : 12-07-2014
Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed on Friday to strengthen mutual cooperation for making anti-polio campaign in border areas of the two countries effective.
This was decided at a coordination meeting between the two countries on the eradication of polio here on Friday. The two-day meeting was organised in collaboration with Unicef.
Of all the polio cases reported worldwide in 2014 so far, more than 70 per cent belong to Pakistan.
Extensive cross-border movement by people is one of the major challenges faced by the two countries because this has proved to be the main cause for the spread of polio virus.
According to Balochistan’s health minister Rehmat Baloch, an estimated 800 children are vaccinated every day at the Friendship Gate near the Chaman border between the two countries.
“We need to ensure each and every child crossing the border is immunised,” he added
Although no polio case was reported in Balochistan for the past 20 months, there is a risk of polio virus transmission from people crossing into Balochistan from Afghanistan. Recently, a polio case was reported in southern Afghanistan.
According to Unicef’s chief of field office Rahama Mohammad, constant presence of virus in environmental samples of Quetta this year is alarming.
“Polio virus has no borders and children on both sides of the border are at equal risk of paralysis if we do not act now.”
Afghan province health director Kandahar Dr Abdul Qayum Pokhala said both countries were facing similar issues and none could eradicate the polio alone.
He stressed the need for close cooperation between the two governments for the eradication of polio.
“This is possible only when we work together and ensure that each child crossing the border or living in cross-border villages is immunised,” he said
The meeting aims to improve coordination between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to ensure improved quality of vaccination in cross-border villages, case surveillance, etc. From Afghanistan, 26 officials participated in the meeting.