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Polio likely to be eradicated in Pakistan by 2019 – WHO

Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, says that polio is likely to be eliminated from Pakistan by the end of 2019, a statement said on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Photo credit: AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI / Getty Images

Ghebreyesus, who led a delegation, met with Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Qureshi, and assured the organisation’s support to the healthcare system of the country.

“Ghebreyesus briefed the foreign minister on WHO’s enhanced focus on public health, country-level impacts, ongoing programmes/projects in Pakistan aimed at improving people’s access to health-related matters,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The WHO chief said that the organisation had intensified its activities in coordination with the Pakistani government for polio eradication, and the enhanced efforts will lead to elimination of the disease by the end of 2019.

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Qureshi said that the Pakistani government remains committed to ensuring provision of quality health facilities to all people at all levels.

He also assured the delegation of full support in polio eradication and implementation of other health programmes in Pakistan in the future.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio virus could not be eradicated yet, the WHO said on its website.

WHO added that the polio virus could easily be imported into a polio-free country and can spread rapidly among unimmunised populations.

There has been a 99 per cent reduction in the polio cases in Pakistan since 2014.

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The total count of new polio cases in Pakistan in 2018 was eight, while it was also eight in 2017, 20 in 2016, 54 in 2015 and 306 in 2014, according to data compiled by Pakistani officials.

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