ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday, while reiterating the government's commitment to eradicate polio from Pakistan, emphasized the need for coordinated efforts by all the segments of society to reach every child for immunizations to make Pakistan a polio free country.
He said, "We are not yet completely polio free and our aim is to make Pakistan completely polio free and we aim that no child lives in the fear of being crippled for life."
The President said although Pakistan was one of the first countries to launch the polio eradication campaign but still it could not be made polio free.
He said, "We should ensure that the future generation should not blame for ignoring about their health."
The President said, "We are responsible for protecting the health and education needs of every child living anywhere in the country and we should fulfil our duty with the provision of these basic needs of life to every child."
The President called for the need to produce polio vaccines within the country.
He said that Pakistan and China have signed an MoU on cooperation in manufacturing vaccines and expressed the hope that the cooperation will also be extended to manufacturing polio vaccines in Pakistan for nationwideanti-polio programs.
The President said that the government was mindful of the challenges being faced in the polio campaign but added that no challenge was too big to stop from saving the children from polio.
He said, "We cannot be the last country to eradicate polio as even our neighbours have eradicated their country from polio."
The President, who administered polio drops to some of the children here at Aiwan-e-Sadr, said some extremists have opposed polio eradication plans, but "in the Pakistan of the Quaid-i-Azam and Quaid-i-Awam we cannot allow extremists to stop us from carrying forward the welfare agenda". He said with democracy taking roots, these forces are bound to fail.
He said the Government was aware of the recent challenges in North and South Waziristan where certain groups imposed a ban on polio campaign. He said, "We were meeting the challenge with locally appropriate solutions and in accordance with local traditions and norms".
The President said that the Government was also mindful of the recent incidents of violence that took place in Karachi including attacks on World Health Organization workers. He said, "We cannot allow anyone to target those working to protect the health of our children."
He said that the Sindh Government has been directed to take stern action against these elements and provide security to the international health teams.
The President said that the National Emergency Action plan, which was launched in January last year, has the backing of all provincial governments and AJK. He said that NEAP focuses greater ownership, oversight and accountability at the federal, provincial, district and UC levels.
Special measures have been devised to ensure access to the security compromised areas and under the plan district administration was given leadership role and responsibility for polio eradication, he added.