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Confusion on POLIO travel restrictions.

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ISLAMABAD: Government officials are considering a plea to the World Health Organisation (WHO) against Polio travel restrictions imposed upon the Pakistanis. WHO’s International Health Regulatory Emergency Committee has recently imposed a pre-travel condition on Pakistanis to control the international spread of Polio virus. According to the federal government, Pakistan has not received any official directives or dates from WHO so far.

However, the Coordinator of WHO in Pakistan – Mr. Zubair Mufti, has stated that; “The WHO had already publicly announced the news regarding placing travel restrictions on Pakistan therefore it was a clear message for everyone. And it is effective from May 5. WHO has also shared the format of the international certificate required for polio vaccination”.

During a meeting of the Health Authorities in Islamabad, the Minister of Health (NHSRC) – Saira Tarar stated that; “We have certain options which also includes the move to file an appeal against WHO’s polio inoculation certification related travel restrictions”.

According to recent news reports; The prime minister’s focal person on polio – Ayesha Raza Farooq, has stated that “We thought we had done a good job in presenting our case to international organizations and thought we would be given some time before we were bombed with the news of restrictions. We have tried to advocate vociferously against travel recommendation. The WHO recommendations are not restrictions on international travel, but are “temporary recommendations” such as those in place for Hajj and Umrah passengers”.

“We will do our best to facilitate international travellers. The government is deciding to put vaccination counters at all international airports. We need some time to plan logistics. Those traveling in the coming week should not face problems when entering other countries, even if they do not have a polio vaccination certificate,” Ayesha Raza further said.

May 8, 2014

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