Qatar participates in regional subcommittee meeting for polio eradication

Human Services

Minister of Public Health: The State of Qatar has been a steadfast supporter of the humanitarian work of WHO, particularly in emergency response.

We are committed to working together to ensure no child is ever paralyzed by poliovirus in our region.

Qatar participated in the 5th meeting of the Regional Subcommittee for Polio Eradication and Outbreaks held last Tuesday via videoconference. The delegation of Qatar to the meeting was headed by HE the Minister of Public Health and co-chair of the committee Dr Hanan Mohamed Al-Kuwari.

The meeting reviewed several important topics, most notably, the developments regarding the eradication of polio in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, the recognition of the member states’ commitment to the eradication of polio, and the proposed measures for the eradication of polio in the region.

In her speech at the meeting, HE Dr Hanan Mohamed Al-Kuwari affirmed Qatar’s support for the humanitarian work efforts undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO), especially in the field of emergency response.

She indicated that last March, Qatar hosted a high-level meeting to discuss the interim health priorities of Afghanistan during the next 18-24 months, as Afghanistan is one of the last two countries in which the disease is endemic. The meeting was an invitation to partners and donors to work together to find ways to stop the spread of multiple diseases, including polio.

As Qatar is a member and cochair of the subcommittee, there is an obligation to work together to ensure that children in the region are protected from paralysis that is caused by the polio virus.

HE Dr. Al Kuwari added that progress on polio in the Eastern Mediterranean region is still fragile, and that so far, nine children have been paralyzed by the wild polio virus in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The lives of these children could have changed completely if they received a life-saving vaccination during immunization campaigns, she said, noting that there are children in other countries in the region who fall victim to polio due to low levels of routine immunization.

HE Dr Al-Kuwari stressed the need to enhance immunity levels in children, especially those who still lack routine immunization and polio vaccination campaigns, calling for the creation of an enabling environment that allows health workers to reach children with these two drops of the polio vaccine as well as the injectable vaccine.

HE Dr Al-Kuwari underlined the importance of finding concrete mechanisms in the Eastern Mediterranean region to prevent attacks on health workers and to support the families of victims and survivors of these devastating attacks, noting that in February, eight polio vaccinators, four of them women, were attacked in Afghanistan while performing their work of giving polio vaccine for children

“The loss of health workers is a huge loss for humanity,” she said. “Thanks to the efforts of those brave health workers, especially women, an unprecedented stage has been reached in reducing the levels of the spread of wild poliovirus in the region,” she added.

HE Dr Hanan Mohamed Al-Kuwari also commended the co-operation of many countries in coordinating cross-border efforts, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Djibouti, and Somalia, and expressed her thanks to the relevant ministries for their efforts in mobilizing domestic funding necessary to implement vaccination campaigns.

It is noteworthy that the Regional Subcommittee aims to bring together Member States from across the Region to intensify regional solidarity and commitment to collective actions that achieve polio eradication. The Eastern Mediterranean Region is the only region where polio eradication is a regional emergency. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in which wild poliovirus remains endemic, where three new cases of wild polio virus (WPV1) were discovered in Pakistan last April, and one case in Afghanistan last January.

Source: Ministry of Public Health