Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says polio is likely to be eliminated from Pakistan by the end of 2019, according to an official statement on Tuesday.
Ghebreyesus, who led a delegation, met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here and assured the organization’s support to the healthcare system of the country.
“Tedros Adhanom briefed the foreign minister on WHO’s enhanced focus on public health, country-level impacts, ongoing programs/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 organization had intensified its activities in coordination with the Pakistani government for polio eradication, and the enhanced efforts would lead to elimination of the disease by the end of 2019.
Qureshi said that the Pakistani government remained committed to ensuring provision of quality health facilities to all people at all levels, and assured the delegation of full support in polio eradication and implementation of other health programs in Pakistan in the future.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where poliovirus could not be eradicated yet, the WHO said on its website, adding that the poliovirus could easily be imported into a polio-free country and could spread rapidly amongst unimmunized populations.
There has been a 99 percent reduction in the polio cases in Pakistan since 2014. 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.