ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has extended for three months the international travel restriction on Pakistan for its failure to eradicate the poliovirus.
Moreover, for the first time, all countries having embassies in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been asked to demand polio vaccination certificates from the visa seekers. The WHO stated that a large population movement across the Middle East and from Pakistan and Afghanistan increased the risk of international spread of the poliovirus.
Pakistan has been suggested to provide a monthly report on the number of residents whose travel was restricted and those who were vaccinated at the point of the departure (air, sea and road).
However, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq told Dawn that the emergency committee under the International Health Regulations had encouraged the efforts made by Pakistan because the poliovirus had not traveled to any country except Afghanistan, which was treated as one block.
Asks countries having embassies in Pakistan and Afghanistan to demand polio vaccination certificates from visa seekers
“That is why instead of declaring the restriction permanent it has been extended for three months. However, I believe that some suggestions have been given to keep pressure on Pakistan,” she said.
“In Afghanistan, a number of people do not bother to get vaccination certificate so during a meeting of the committee Kabul had suggested that the embassies should be involved to ensure the polio vaccination. But in the report, Pakistan’s name was also included though Islamabad had not asked for it. We will take up the issue at an appropriate forum,” she said.
It may be mentioned that the extension was announced at a time when Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar was defending Pakistan’s case at the World Health Assembly in Geneva and sharing with the participants the success stories of the country in the field of health.
According to the WHO statement posted on its website, at the 9th meeting of the committee held on May 12, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nigeria submitted their performance reports.
The committee noted that since May 2014 there had been a decline in the occurrence of international spread of the wild poliovirus with no international spread in 2015 or thus far in 2016 except between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The committee noted that two new reports of exportation from Pakistan into Afghanistan had occurred.
The first case occurred in October 2015 and the second in February 2016 in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, respectively.
The committee stated that though the poliovirus had not travelled from Afghanistan to Pakistan, the security situation in Afghanistan increased the risk of the virus getting transferred to other countries.
Pakistan and Afghanistan were suggested to declare the interruption of poliovirus transmission as the highest level emergency.
Moreover, it was recommended that any national or foreign national who stays in Pakistan for over four weeks should be vaccinated before they leave the country.
On May 5, 2014, the WHO declared it mandatory for Pakistan to give at least one dose of vaccine to all those travelling out of the country. Moreover, the government was also suggested to issue certificates to the travelers.
Courtesy : Dawn News