Children are our future, and the Government of Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the disability-causing poliovirus does not remain a threat to their wellbeing, Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan has said.
The minister led an awareness walk in Islamabad to end polio on Sunday as part of a series of events marking World Polio Day, which is observed on October 24 every year.
The walk brought together hundreds of participants from the Ministry of Health, students, civil society, the leadership of the Pakistan Polio Programme and polio eradication partners such as Rotary, WHO, UNICEF and BMGF and featured a speech from Senator Quratulain Marri, a polio survivor.
Senator Marri spoke about the everyday challenges of living with polio and polio regressive syndrome. “Ten years ago, I didn’t need a crutch, 10 years after maybe I’ll be on a wheelchair. This is a delibitating disease.”
“A child less than five years does not have the ability to share the pain they feel, but let me tell you, it’s a very very painful disease.”
Dr Nadeem Jan said: “This walk is a testament to our commitment and the tireless efforts and resilience of our healthcare heroes who continue to immunize children, even in the most challenging circumstances. It’s a powerful statement that together, we can achieve a polio-free Pakistan.”
Representatives from Rotary International and WHO, on behalf of UN partners, in Pakistan also spoke on the occasion.
WHO Country Representative said: “It’s wonderful to be here together with frontline health workers who reach every home in Pakistan. This work is crucial. We are working to eradicate the second disease in human history.”
Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, thanked the participants and highlighted Pakistan’s progress in polio eradication.