Pakistan to import polio markers from India

Pakistan to import polio markers from India

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to import polio markers from India, months after it suspended trade ties with New Delhi following abrogation of the article 370, according to a media report on Wednesday. “The federal Cabinet on Tuesday decided to give one-time permission for import of polio markers from India,” Dawn reported.

Pakistan is one of the three countries, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio is still endemic. The markers used to mark the fingers of children after administering them polio vaccine are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Cabinet’s decision to import markers from India comes months after the Pakistan government had on August 9 decided to suspend all kinds of trade with India following New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370 on August 5 to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“However, since a large number of medicines and raw material are imported from India, the country’s pharmaceutical industry started demanding that the ban be lifted on them because otherwise, Pakistan could face a severe crisis of medicines, especially life-saving drugs, within a few weeks. Consequently, the government had in September lifted the ban on import of medicines and raw material from India,” the paper said.

Pakistan’s National Coordinator of Emergency Operation Centre for Polio Dr Rana Safdar told the newspaper that non-toxic markers were required as children tend to swallow some of the ink. “There are only two WHO pre-qualified manufacturers in the world, in India and China, which manufacture non-toxic markers as children can swallow the ink,” Safdar was quoted as saying by the paper.

Though WHO procures markers for Pakistan and, in the past, it had purchased markers from China, there were issues with the quality of markers.

“WHO had started procurement from India and, before the announcement of ban, it had given order for 800,000 markers to the manufacturer, but the stock could not be delivered due to the ban. But now because of the decision of one-time lifting of the ban we will get the markers,” he added.

The stock, Safdar said, would be sufficient for the next two nationwide polio campaigns.

Pakistan, which has recorded at least 104 cases of polio this year, launched a massive anti-polio drive early this month to vaccinate 6.75 million children in 33 districts of the country.

Pakistan has been fighting to combat polio since 1994. However, attempts to eradicate the crippling disease have been seriously hampered by deadly targeting of vaccination teams in recent years by militants, who oppose the drives, claiming that the polio drops cause infertility. PTI

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