PARIS – Four polio workers from Pakistan have been awarded with prestigious Louis Pasteur medals by the Pasteur Institute of France in recognition of their services towards eradication of the crippling disease.

Mohammad Khuram Shehzad, Syed Latif, Ms. Azra Altaf, and Aziz Memon were awarded the medals in an impressive ceremony held yesterday in Pasteur Institute in Paris on the World Polio Day.

The UNESCO/Institut Pasteur Medal is a biennial international science prize created jointly by UNESCO and the Pasteur Institute in 1995 “to be awarded in recognition of outstanding research contributing to a beneficial impact on human health and to the advancement of scientific knowledge in related fields such as medicine, fermentations, agriculture and food.”

Its creation marked the centenary of the death of Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist who developed the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax.

Ambassador of Pakistan to France Moinul Haque representatives of the World Health Organization and Government of France presented the awards.

The Pakistani envoy said that eradication of polio was a national priority and a commitment at the highest political level.

“Recognition of courageous role and services of the Pakistani polio workers was also an acknowledgement of the dedicated and collective efforts of the Government of Pakistan and all the stakeholders to achieve the target of declaring Pakistan a Polio free country,” the ambassador added.

Every year, October 24 is observed as the World Polio Day to commemorate the fight against poliomyelitis and pay tribute to Jonas Salk, American medical researcher and virologist who led the first team that developed a vaccine against the crippling virus.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries battling polio now with Nigeria making considerable progress towards polio free status.