Islamabad: Aseefa Bhutto, ambassador for polio eradication on Monday kicked off the countrywide anti-polio drive by administrating vaccine to minors and pledging to carry forward her mother’s mission. Aseefa is the country’s first child who was administered anti-polio drops personally by her mother – the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who launched the polio eradication campaign in 1994. President Asif Ali Zardari was present at the ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr, to mark the partnership of polio eradication campaign with Benazir Income Support Program and also to support her youngest daughter in her aim to make Pakistan polio free.
Aseefa Bhutto in her address to a gathering of health experts, international donor agencies and diplomatic community said being the first child to be protected against polio, she considered herself duty-bound to save the less fortunate from this disease.
She reiterated her firm commitment to eradicate polio from the country and stressed for collective partnership and volunteerism in order to completely banish crippling disease especially among the marginalized and poor in far-flung areas. She pointed that unfortunately Pakistan was among few countries which was still not completely polio free as the disease continued to threaten opportunities for the children. She said partnership with BISP was aimed at taking the polio eradication program to every household.
She recalled that Polio Eradication Initiative was one amongst the various health initiatives launched by the government of her mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She said since 1994, the polio cases had significantly reduced from 30,000, however still there was a need to make the country polio free.
“Our aim is to make Pakistan completely polio free. We aim that no child lives in the fear of being crippled for life,” she said. Aseefa stressed the need for producing polio vaccines within the country and hoped that Pakistan-China Memorandum of Understanding would help start manufacture of vaccine in Pakistan as well.
Emphasizing upon child health being the collective responsibility of all, she called for making a determined effort that no child should miss out polio drops. Aseefa pointed that some extremists were opposing polio eradication plans.
“In Pakistan of the Quaid-i-Azam and Quaid-i-Awam, we cannot allow extremists to stop us from carrying forward the welfare agenda. With democracy taking roots, these forces are bound to fail,” she remarked.
Chairperson BISP Farzana Raja said with President Zardari as the chief patron of polio eradication program and Aseefa Bhutto as ambassador, the program would prove as a success in coordination with BISP. She said that Mohtarma Shaheed introduced a revolutionary agenda in the social sector which was based on investment in health and education. Ms. Farzana Raja said that polio eradication campaign was initiated by Mohtarma Shaheed aiming to save the children, the future of Pakistan. Following the same agenda, she said, BISP is now recognized as a landmark initiative in helping the sufferings of those who are less fortunate.
She pledged her support for the cause of polio eradication and said that an awareness campaign in this regard is being launched in FATA from 20th June 2011 whereas the practice will also be carried out in far off districts of Balochistan and Sindh as well.
Chairperson BISP said the survey teams of BISP would work in close coordination with the polio teams ensuring every household was covered.
A documentary on polio eradication program was also screened showing the control over disease through concerted national efforts.
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Assistant Media Officer
Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) – Sindh
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