Japan provides $3.87m new grant for polio eradication

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The Government of Japan has ex-tended its support to the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme by providing more than US$ 3.87 mil-lion grant. The grant will be used for the procurement of essential oral polio vaccine, which will reach more than 18.61 million under five years old children in Paki-stan living in endemic and outbreak districts. The notes of the grant were signed and exchanged be-tween the Government of Japan and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and UNICEF. Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination and other dignitaries were present during the signing event.

“Pakistan has come a long way in the last 30 years. From thousands of children paralyzed by poliovirus in the 1980s and 1990s, we have managed to reduce the number of cases and affected communities dras-tically,” said Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel. Referring to the commitment of the government to polio eradication, the Minister said, “The Pro-gramme has successfully restricted virus circulation to endemic districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; we are committed and optimistic about eradicating polio by 2023.” The Minister extended his sincere apprecia-tion for the support of the Government of Japan and partners for their unwavering commitment to Polio eradication.

The Government of Japan has been supporting the Polio Eradication Programme in Pakistan since 1996. The long-standing partnerships have helped to reach millions of children with life-saving vaccines over the years. The grant and loan contribution from the Government of Japan to date has amounted to more than US$ 238.66 million dollars to support the Polio Programme in Pakistan through UNICEF.

Wada Mitsuhiro, Ambassador of Japan commended the Government of Pakistan and UNICEF for their tireless efforts in emergency vaccination campaigns in southern KP and establishing transit points in North Waziristan to limit the spread of Wild Polio Virus. He also reiterated his continuous support for eradicating poliovirus, by saying that “I would like to renew my commitment to achieve a polio-free world. Japan will continuously support the Govern-ment of Pakistan and UNICEF in this regard. I sin-cerely hope that the national and sub-national cam-paigns of next year will be safe and successful.”

“It is very appreciative that the polio programme has supported the flood relief efforts in the flood affected districts. Health camps have been opened to provide basic clinical services, treatment of water-borne, vector-borne diseases and immunization for children and women of reproductive age. The Gov-ernment of Pakistan, UNICEF and Japan has a strong target to achieve polio-free in Pakistan by the end of 2023. I would appreciate the continuous and unwavering leadership and commitment of the Gov-ernment of Pakistan and UNICEF, with the highest respect to the frontline workers,” said Kinoshita Yasumitsu, Chief Representative, JICA Pakistan Office.

While polio remains a challenge for Pakistan, the country is facing extraordinary challenges due to recent floods. “Already these children and families have lost so much, it is imperative that we safeguard them from this deadly disease,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, highlighting the situation of children.