Islamabad—Canada on Tuesday announced a contribution of 40 million Canadian dollars to support the eradication of polio in Pakistan over the next three years.
Acknowledging the commitment by Canada at a ceremony at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination here Saira Afzal Tarar said Pakistan had never been closer to eradication of polio.
“When we will defeat polio, it will motivate us to aim for other great health and development milestones for the children of Pakistan,” she said.
The minister said the government of Canada had long been a generous supporter of Pakistan and the support and leadership extended would go a long way in helping them in ensuring that the children of Pakistan would be free of this crippling disease.
The contribution from the Government of Canada will strengthen communities’ support for polio eradication, awareness raising and the recruitment and training of community-based vaccinators project implemented by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
While the World Health Organization (WHO) will strengthen supplementary immunization operations, campaign and post campaign monitoring, surveillance and monitoring effort to detect and track the polio virus.
High Commissioner of Canada to Pakistan Heather Cruden said, “Only by joining our efforts and by combining our resources, we can win the fight against the poliovirus, because the virus can spread across national borders, it has the potential to affect any of us, regardless of our ethnicity, culture or religion. We are all in this together.”
According to international oversight bodies such as the Independent Monitoring Board for Polio Eradication, Pakistan Polio Technical Advisory Group and the World Health Assembly, Pakistan is making a significant progress in the fight against polio.
Last year, Pakistan achieved 82 percent reduction in the number of children affected by polio, down to 54 cases compared to 306 in 2014.
Pakistan is the closest it’s ever been to eradication. The renewed support by WHO will strengthen supplementary immunization activities and acute flaccid paralysis surveillance, which is a compass to measure the progress on this global work in Pakistan.
As Pakistan moves closer to eradication a robust surveillance system will be critical to the effort.
“We are extremely grateful to the Canadian government for the commitment it continues to make to polio eradication in Pakistan,” said Dr Lamia Mahmoud, Acting WHO Representative in Pakistan.
“We have already significantly increased the number of vaccinators and empowered them for those children most at risk, and there has been real progress in reducing the number of new infections. The support from the Government of Canada is a massive boost in the battle to rid Pakistan of the scourge of polio.”