ISLAMABAD: The International donors and development partners on Friday vowed to stand with Pakistan to eradicate the deadly poliovirus from the country and rest of the world. The pledge was reiterated during the regular quarterly briefing to the donor community at the National Emergency Operations Centre. The One Team Approach, led by the government and supported by partners, is helping Pakistan to make polio a history. After recording the lowest ever 20 polio cases in 2016, the programme has successfully maintained the momentum in 2017 where the current case count of two compares to 11 reported by this date in 2017. “We as a nation are committed and our valiant front line workers fully determined to achieve the target of interruption by end of 2017,” Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq in her welcome address said. “Behind all these successful efforts is the commitment of the government of Pakistan that transcends any political consideration. Nationally, the prime minister of Pakistan has declared Polio eradication as one of key priorities placing it at top of priority agenda of the health sector intractably linked to Sustainable Development Goals and the National Health Vision 2025,” she said. At the provincial level, the task forces led by chief ministers and chief secretaries with the support of respective Emergency Operations Centres are driving this sustained performance. “All political parties at the federal level and in all the provinces stay committed and are working together to ensure continuity and sustainability in the days ahead,” she added. In his briefing to the representatives of donor and prospective donor agencies and countries, Polio Eradication National Coordinator Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar shared the overall programme progress during the low transmission season just ended with nationwide campaign in May. “The programme’s ability to anticipate virus risk an quickly plug the immunity gaps during the implementation of National Emergency Action Plan 2016-17 brought us that close to the virus interruption,” he said. The recent survey in high-risk districts has indicated high immunity levels against polio and with a little added focus on high risk mobile populations and improving routine immunisation, we are all set to achieve our cherished goal,” Dr Safdar said. The representative of WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, JICA, USAID, Islamic Development Bank, Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC, Public Health England as well as the governments of Japan and Canada also spoke on the occasion. Dr Assai Ardakani, the WHO acting representative, appreciated the vision and performance of the national leadership and remarked that the countries polio programme has set good lessons in the areas of effective and evidence based management coupled with accountability that could be easily applied for improving the overall health structures and systems in Pakistan and many other countries facing similar challenges. UNICEF Country Representative Angela Kearney praised the Ministry of National Health Services and programme management for introducing a culture of honesty and transparency in running a huge initiative with utmost efficiency. “We take pride in it and will continue to support the programme at all levels,” she said. National Chair of Rotary International Pakistan Aziz Memon said Rotary was proud to be part of this national cause. He made special mention of the upcoming Rotary pledge event wherein the entire partnership will get together to ensure the continuous support to the polio eradication in the form of financing, logistics and human resource contributions in the years to come. Representative of Islamic Development Bank in Pakistan Inamullah Khan applauded the exemplary political commitment shown by the government to make polio eradication an almost reality in Pakistan. “The exemplary turn around has left many lessons that can be applied in Islamic world to tackle other health and social issues in Islamic Ummah,” he said. The representative of Canada stated that his government was happy and satisfied to be part of a well performing programme. The participants from USAID, JICA, CDC and Public Health England also appreciated the programme progress during last low transmission season reiterating commitment on behalf of their agencies to continue supporting the Pakistan’s programme in its march towards ‘zero polio’. Global Polio Eradication Initiative has helped the world in reducing the yearly polio cases from 365,000 to only five in 2017 so far. Along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, Pakistan is one of three remaining polio endemic countries of the world. The historically low virus circulation ever provides the world best opportunity to eradicate polio from the globe – only be the second human disease to be eradicated all together after Small Pox.