Pakistan Seeks Iran Help in Tackling Polio

Pakistan Seeks Iran Help in Tackling PolioPakistan Seeks Iran Help in Tackling Polio

T he outbreak of poliomyelitis (also known as infantile paralysis) is one of the most important health concerns in Pakistan and Iran’s assistance has been sought to address the issue.

“My country needs Iran’s cooperation and knowledge in the immunization program against the spread of the disease,” Pakistan’s Minister of Health Saira Afzal Tarar, told the media recently.

In 2014 polio virus was spreading only in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, she said, noting that Iran not only has eliminated the disease, but also established a comprehensive healthcare system, IRNA reported.

The membership of the two countries in the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Group of Five (Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and the WHO) is a valuable platform for sharing information and experiences in healthcare and treatment among the member states, particularly in areas of dangerous diseases.

Afzal Tarar said joint production of medicines could be another area of bilateral collaboration as “Iran has wide experience in producing vaccines, especially for polio.” This will help the pharmaceutical sector in Pakistan too.


The possibility of Iran-Pakistan collaboration in manufacturing of vaccines was discussed during a three-day visit of an Iranian delegation comprising officials from the Ministry of Health and Medical Education to Islamabad recently to explore options of extending cooperation between the two sides, reports

The officials met Afzal Tarar and offered to work closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan in the area of polio eradication. The Iranian side also offered Oral Polio Vaccine for Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Program while expressing desire to work closely with both Pakistan and Afghanistan – polio epidemic countries in the region.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have recently been declared “one epidemiological block” in terms of the fight against polio. Against this background, Iran wants to support both countries to put an end to the disease.

In recent years, polio cases in Pakistan have increased due to various impediments including illiteracy and lack of information especially in deprived areas, attacks on immunization staff by militant groups and also problems in providing sufficient vaccines.

 Preventive Action

Iranian health officials recommended that Pakistan establish a healthcare system similar to Iran’s, to improve services. They also suggested deployment of medics to the common border areas to take preventive action against the spread of polio virus, measles, cholera and other contagious diseases.

Besides training Pakistani health staff, Iranian health officials agreed to set up a committee to extend medical, health and treatment cooperation between the two sides.

Iran also offered to train community health workers and epidemiologists considering the high level of Iranian expertise available in the area. It was also agreed in the meeting to form a joint committee to meet periodically and alternately in both countries in order to benefit from the experiences and define appropriate mechanisms to discuss, negotiate and exchange ideas to move forward.

The Iranian delegation was led by Dr. Mohsin Asadi Lari, special assistant for international affairs to the health minister. Other delegates included Dr. Mahmood Reza Miribanjar, vice chancellor of Zahedan Medical University and Dr. Akbar Abdullahi Asal, head of the Central Drugs Regulatory Agency. The delegation also included Fereshte Zeraati, director of international cooperation at the Health Ministry.