ISLAMABAD, Dec 4 (APP):Technical Advisory Group (TAG) at the conclusion of its meeting on Monday appreciated the progress,
made in Pakistan over the past nine months on the way to achieving polio eradication.

The TAG recognized the progress made in the reduction of cases to an all-time low of five because of
the high level of government commitment, led by the Prime Minister, provincial leadership and support
of the law enforcement agencies and security forces, ensuring the safety of the hard working vaccination
teams.

It also commended Pakistan’s response to the recommendations from the last TAG in March this year,
and endorsed the one-team-one-family approach of the Emergency Operation Centre, teams working
towards the goal of eradication.

The TAG also noted that transmission of the wild polio virus persists in hotspots, core reservoirs of
Karachi and across Northern Southern Corridors.

For Pakistan to reach the goal of zero cases, the TAG urged for continued focus on improving the
overall performance and decreasing the number of children being missed in the core reservoir
areas and to identify and address the residual risks and act swiftly in response.

Provincial leadership of the programme presented TAG with a comprehensive picture of the
epidemiological situation across the country, indicating the progress made in each province as
well as the remaining gaps to end transmission of the polio virus.

Presenting the findings and recommendations at the conclusion of the meeting, TAG Chair
Jean Marc Olive said “the TAG has reviewed the latest epidemiology and programme
performance thoroughly.

At this critical juncture, the outcome of TAG will help spotlight the remaining gaps and advise
Pakistan’s programme on improving the planning and implementation of its National Emergency
Action Plan”.

Prime Ministers Focal Point for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq thanked members
of the TAG as well as the provincial polio eradication teams for the detailed and constructive
deliberations during the meetings.

“The key to interruption is for the programme to be fully aware of the remaining challenges and
obstacles we need to overcome. Pakistan’s commitment is steadfast as witnessed by the
substantial progress made this year. Built on a solid foundation of overwhelming political
commitment and support, we remain on track to interrupt transmission”, she said.

Since the last TAG, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) has made considerable
progress owing to the high commitment of the government and support at every level,
strengthened programme performance and broad community acceptance of the polio
vaccine.

Consequently, case numbers have come the lowest they have ever been. The number of
children paralyzed by the wild polio virus has dropped from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015 to
20 in 2016 and only five so far in 2017 and the immunity gaps continue to decline.

The two-day meeting drew polio experts from lead implementation partners World Health
Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), leadership and teams
from provinces across Pakistan, senior representatives from across the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and key donors.“Polio eradication has given us the tools and
is the beginning of our efforts to reach our most vulnerable children with equitable access
to health care.

The best way to honour the commitment of our Frontline Health Workers who come from
the same under-served communities is to ensure that we finish the job and build a better
future for their children”, concluded Senator Farooq.

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was established to review progress towards polio
eradication in specific countries, assess implementation of previous TAG recommendations,
discuss planned activities and issue recommendations to address constraints facing national
programmes in achieving their targets.

TAG meetings are attended by country-specific TAG members, national representatives and
partner organizations, both international and regional.

The TAG meets twice a year in Pakistan and Afghanistan to review progress and provide
expert advice on the final road to reaching zero.

The meeting brought together polio eradication experts from the government of Pakistan,
lead implementing partners including, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United
Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), senior representatives from across the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative (GPEI), Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and
the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and representatives of key donors and donor
countries.