Pakistan | Programme areas | Polio Eradication Initiative

Polio Eradication Initiative

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A child receives two drops of polio vaccine during the May vaccination campaigns in Lahore, Pakistan. WHO Pakistan/Anam Khan.A child receives two drops of polio vaccine during the May vaccination campaigns in Lahore, Pakistan. WHO Pakistan/Anam Khan.

Pakistan is one of only 2 remaining countries in the world with ongoing wild poliovirus transmission, in addition to Afghanistan. WHO, with UNICEF and other key partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, supports the Government of Pakistan in polio eradication efforts to ensure that Pakistan achieves polio-free status. 

Pakistan has come a long way in its struggle to eradicate polio. In the early 1990s, the annual incidence of polio was estimated at more than 20 000 cases a year. Since its initiation in 1994, the national polio eradication programme has made major strides in reaching children with immunization in all parts of the country. The current polio epidemiology remains the best we have ever seen in Pakistan. The number of cases has declined from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015 to 20 in 2016 and to 8 in 2017. In 2018, Pakistan has reported 3 polio case so far, all from Dukki district in Balochistan province.

Government leadership and emergency operations centres 

The work with partners as “one team under one roof” under the leadership of the Government at emergency operations centres has been essential in ensuring improvements across all aspects of programme operations, risk management and oversight activities. Thanks to the centres, the programme is now further supported by the availability of high-quality data and comprehensive, real-time risk assessment and monitoring, resulting in better campaign quality and better response to outbreaks.

Addressing remaining challenges

Despite the record low number of new cases, a strong surveillance system indicates the virus continues to circulate in Pakistan and remains a threat to children. The programme is systematically addressing and responding to these challenges by focusing on reaching missed children and continuously improving campaign quality. 

To reach the ultimate goal of polio eradication, Pakistan's polio eradication programme is implementing an intensive vaccination campaign schedule focused on operational improvements to achieve high population immunity in the core reservoirs of Karachi, Peshawar, Khyber, Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Pishin, while keeping the rest of the country polio free. Beyond this, the programme remains focused on vaccinating all children of Pakistan particularly by intensified focus on the use of communication for eradication to build trust in and demand for polio vaccination. Strategic use of media and targeted community engagement helps to address concerns of parents and caregivers and improve vaccine acceptance. 

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