The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Polio Eradication in Pakistan met in Islamabad on 29th and 30th August 2019. The two-day deliberations were led by the Chair, Dr Jean-Marc Olivé, attended by six of the seven members and supported by the Pakistan Polio Eradication Team, led by Dr Zafar Mirza, Minister of NHSRC and Mr. Babar Bin Atta, the Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication. The TAG welcomed the representatives from Federal and Provincial Governments, local and international partners and donors.
The TAG was convened at this critical juncture of the Pakistan Polio Programme, to review eradication efforts, analyze the key challenges and risks to eradication, and provide strategic technical guidance to help pave the way forward. Through information presented by the National and Provincial Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), the TAG was appraised of the changes in the programme since its last meeting in January (including the status of implementation of TAG recommendations) and recognized the significant challenges faced by the programme since the beginning of 2019.
Pakistan has reported 58 cases of wild poliovirus as of August 31, 2019 – representing 80% of the global case count (figure 1) – and 43.4% of environmental samples collected have been positive, indicating widespread virus circulation across the country.