It has been a challenging year for polio eradication in Pakistan, with 62 cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) reported in the country as of September 20 (compared to 18 WPV1 cases in Pakistan in 2018).
As the country continues to experience ongoing wild poliovirus transmission, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) presses on to reach every last Pakistani child with vaccines, strengthen surveillance, and secure the necessary resources to achieve eradication. The National Stop Transmission of Polio program of Pakistan (NSTOP-Pakistan) remains a key player in these efforts.
From August 1 to 2, NSTOP-Pakistan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) organized an orientation workshop for Pakistan’s Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners to review progress on the country’s National Emergency Plan (NEAP) for Polio Eradication. Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners are chief governmental representatives of districts throughout the country, with significant administrative and fiscal responsibilities.
TEPHINET provided logistical and financial support to this workshop, which took place in Nathia Gali in Abbottabad District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The workshop trained participants on several aspects of the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI), including:
- orienting them on the NEAP, with a special focus on their roles as PEI district leaders,
- educating them on the progress made by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the importance of polio eradication in Pakistan,
- informing them on the roles of various partners engaged in the initiative, key performance indicators, and accountability procedures, and
- equipping them with basic information regarding oral (OPV) and inactivated (IPV) polio vaccines.
The workshop was facilitated by experts from the national PEI program and the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) communications team as well as from PEI partner organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, NSTOP, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The event provided participants with an opportunity to deliberate prior to the upcoming low transmission season (November 2019 to April 2020) in order to strengthen the battleground for the final push to eradicate polio.
In addition, TEPHINET provided logistical and financial support to NSTOP-Pakistan to hold its annual review meeting from September 26 to 30 in Karachi, the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh. During this annual review, each district of the country provides an update on its polio eradication efforts in the last year. The meeting provides an opportunity for all major NSTOP-Pakistan stakeholders to discuss the program’s challenges, opportunities, lessons learned, and future priorities.