International travel ban on Pakistanis suggested

International travel ban on Pakistanis suggested

ISLAMABAD: The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has recommended the imposition of international travel restrictions on every child or adult travelling out of polio-endemic Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria so that they do not carry the risk of polio with them to risk the hard-earned status of countries that are now free of the crippling virus.

 “No country should allow a citizen from any widespread polio state to cross their border without a valid vaccination certificate,” recommends the sixth IMB report, which has just been released. The Board was convened at the request of the World Health Assembly to monitor and guide the progress of the GPEI’s 2010-12 Strategic Plan. This plan is aimed at interrupting polio transmission globally by the end of 2012, a target which in spite of appearing closer than ever before, is still far from being achieved.

Titled ‘The Last Stand?’ the report has advised the International Health Regulations Expert Review Committee to urgently issue a standing recommendation by May 2013 that will introduce pre-travel vaccination or vaccination checks in each of the polio endemic countries until national transmission is stopped.

“Any child or adult travelling out of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan should be certified as vaccinated against polio to reduce the substantial risk of the virus spreading to polio-free countries,” the report recommends.

With reference to Pakistan, the report praises the country’s polio programme for showing significant improvements, with less than half the number of polio cases in 2012 as compared to last year. Pakistan has confirmed 56 registered cases and 10 Sabine-Like 2 cases of polio so far in 2012. “This trajectory of improvement must continue,” the report insists.

At the same time, the report draws attention to two key challenges facing Pakistan in 2013. The first challenge is the forthcoming national elections, which have the potential to distract the government at every level, allow the virus to resurge, and disrupt the eradication efforts.

source: The News

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