Chicago IL: Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Consul General of Pakistan received the prestigious “Paul Harris Leadership Award” from John Osterlund, Chief Development Officer, Rotary International, for Global Campaign against Polio in the presence of over 300 eminent persons from different walks of life, at an event titled “Ending Polio in Pakistan”.
The event was organized by Rotary International in collaboration with the Consulate General of Pakistan to discuss the final push to end polio in Pakistan and to celebrate and honor the selfless commitment of the people and the Government of Pakistan for their tireless work to eradicate this disease.
John Orsterlund and Osei David Andrews-Hutchinson, District Governor of Rotary International applauded Pakistan’s contributions in successfully grappling with the menace of polio as well as the continued sacrifices made by the Government and people of Pakistan.
Dr. Sajjid Mehmood, President Illinois Chapter of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA), while appreciating the efforts of the Government of Pakistan, assured APPNA’s full support and technical assistance to Rotary International in its endeavor to end polio from the world.
Tirmizi stated that Government of Pakistan’s National Emergency Action Plan has resulted in tremendous success which is evident from the fact that there was only one case of polio this year and added that it was found out a few days ago, even though the child had been given the drops twice. He hoped that this would be the last case of polio in Pakistan.
“While the achievements in the field of eradicating polio are important in their own right, there is a pressing need for redoubled efforts to further strengthen health standards and systems– nationally, regionally, and internationally”, opined Tirmizi strongly.
Tirmizi paid special tributes to about two lakh vaccinators, mostly female, who fought in the front lines in the global crusade against polio and, at times, even sacrificed their lives in the campaign.
“Polio eradication is our national priority and the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is directly supervising efforts to eliminate this debilitating disease from Pakistan”, said Tirmizi. He added that the strong political commitment and the widespread national consensus, accompanied by informed and supportive medical fraternity, civil society, religious leadership and media, were greatly instrumental in rooting out the disease in Pakistan.
“The country spent $311 million between 2012 and 2015. The cumulative spending from 2012 through 2018 would increase to a whopping $648 million or Rs. 68 billion at the current exchange rate”, Tirmizi said and added that Pakistan’s commitment to polio eradication remains resolute and firm.
Tirmizi stated that the biggest challenge faced by the program was insecurity and the deadly attacks by militant groups on polio workers to derail the polio eradication program; however, he added, on account of the success of operation Zarb-i-Azab and the support provided by the armed forces in implementation of the campaign, Pakistan succeeded in achieving the target of zero transmission of the poliovirus.
Tirmizi said, with a sense of accomplishment, that the top international watchdog of the Global Polio Eradication effort, the independent monitoring board, in its report, appreciated Pakistan’s Polio program saying that the management and governance processes have improved, a functioning Emergency Operations Centre is now in place, shortcomings in data are being addressed, health camps are operational in different parts of the country, front-line workers are more trained, and access has improved substantially reducing the number of children in inaccessible areas.“We believe that Pakistan, with the support of its technical, operational, and development partners Pakistan succeeded in ending polio forever”, Tirmizi stated emphatically. While stating that the Government of Pakistan is funding the program to an extent of 93 percent, he thanked the donors who are making generous contributions to the program, including Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Government of Canada, Government of Germany, Islamic Development Bank, Government of Japan, USAID, World Bank, Government of United Arab Emirates, Government of Saudi Arabia, etc. He especially thanked Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation for matching US $ 2 to each US $ 1 raised by Rotary International.
Special video messages on the subject by Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination of Pakistan and Tehmina Janjua, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva were also played at the event.
Source: Asian Media USA
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