Health Ministers from SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations would meet in Delhi on April 8 to discuss on ways to fight against polio in India's neighborhood and minimize the risk of cross country movement of the virus.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the world's only three reservoirs of polio virus. Pakistan recorded 305 new polio cases in 2014 making it the most deadly year for the crippling disease since 2000. The country poses the biggest challenge to fight polio. A total of 21 new polio cases recorded in Pakistan in 2015 so far. The annual number of polio virus cases has fallen from 3.5 lakh in 1988 to 416 in 2013.
India had offered support to Pakistan on the measures required to eradicate polio, but yet to receive response from Islamabad. India continues a strict vigil on Pakistan border to stop the entry of polio-infected individuals.
J P Nadda, Union Health Minister will interact with his Pakistani counterpart Saira Afzal Tarar, on the sidelines of SAARC Health Ministers' meeting on April 8.
SAARC nations Health Ministers will be attending the conference on April 6 to 7. The conference will deliberate and provide guidance and a roadmap for strengthening collaboration among SAARC countries on a number of issues and challenges faced by them.
Other issues to be discussed at the meet will include prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, disease surveillance network, health infrastructure, human resources for health, immunization for vaccine preventable diseases, HIV/AIDS, mental health and antibiotic resistance.