Via Dawn.com: WHO’s grace period for polio certification expires. Excerpt:
ISLAMABAD: The relaxation extended to Pakistan by the World Health Organization (WHO) has expired. From June 1, all Pakistanis travelling abroad will be required to present a polio vaccination certificate at the time of departure.
The grace period was requested by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), which asked WHO to give Pakistan time to prepare itself for the vaccination regime before making it mandatory for all international travellers.
However, those proceeding abroad are still confused and have been worrying about the vaccination certificate just as much as they worry about acquiring visas or buying tickets.
The polio virus, which had once been thought to be eradicated, is still present in as many as 10 countries the world over. But Pakistan is among only three countries which are ‘exporting’ the virus across international borders. Cameroon and Syria are the other two countries.
On May 5, WHO declared it mandatory for Pakistanis, and the citizens of the other two countries, to receive at least one dose of anti-polio vaccine before travelling abroad. Moreover, the government was suggested to issue polio certificates to the travellers.
This decision was made to avoid any risk of transferring the virus to other countries.
NHS ministry demanded relaxation to complete the arrangements and gave assurance to the WHO that from June 1, polio vaccination will be declared mandatory and international travellers will not be allowed to move out of Pakistan without polio certificates. At the moment, polio vaccination certificates are being issued from government hospital and international airports all over the country.
Islamabad-resident Muhammad Naeem, who is going to Abu Dhabi on Monday, received his certificate after getting vaccinated last week. Still, he is worried whether this certificate will be accepted at Abu Dhabi airport.
“At foreign international airports, authorities verify the visa of the passengers. I am concerned whether they will verify the vaccination certificate. I doubt that certificates can be verified at airports of other countries, because this information is not available on any website,” he said.
“Almost every day I hear that people are arrested inside and outside the country for having fake visas and other counterfeit travelling documents. What will happen if someone asks for the verification of my polio certificate,” he questioned.