WHO DG calls for concerted efforts to end polio during his visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan

Endemic countries, WHO and partners are committed to eradicate polio

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and Chair of the Polio Oversight Board, administering polio drops to a child during a four-day joint visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan. © WHO/Pakistan
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and Chair of the Polio Oversight Board, administering polio drops to a child during a four-day joint visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan. © WHO/Pakistan

For Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, the start to the new year was marked with a four-day visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan from 5-8 January. The visit came at the heels of his new role as the Chair of the Polio Oversight Board (POB) on 1 January, a committee which oversees and guides the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, signalling the Board’s utmost commitment towards eradication of polio for good.

Accompanied by WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, Dr Tedros’ well-knit, compact visit covered a lot of bases from field visits to high-level meetings with heads of state from both the countries, giving the POB an opportunity to see that while polio may still be in endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the process to achieve the goal of ending polio is not far from realization.

“We must all give our best on this last mile to eradicate polio once and for all. My wish for 2019 is for zero polio transmission. You have WHO’s full support to help reach every child and stop this virus for good,” Dr Tedros said.

During his first stop in Afghanistan on 5-6 January, Dr Tedros met with His Excellency President Dr Ashraf Ghani, His Excellency Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the Council of Ministers, representatives of key partners and nongovernmental organizations working in the field of public health. He also visited to the WHO-supported Trauma Care Hospital in Kabul.

In Pakistan on 7-8 January, Dr Tedros met with the Prime Mister Imran Khan, Federal Minister for National Health Regulations & Coordination Mr Aamer, Mehmood Kiani, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari.

Dr Tedros accompanied the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, to the launch of the first Pakistan Nursing and Midwifery Summit and the Nursing Now campaign. He also visited a basic health centre in Shah Allah Ditta where WHO signed an agreement with the Government of Pakistan to develop a model health care system for universal health coverage in Islamabad.

In the last mile of the polio eradication journey, Dr Tedros’ visit serves as a reminder that now more than ever we need to have social, political and global will to make polio the second human disease in history to be wiped from earth.

Read more about the visit here.

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