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Thursday February 29, 2024

Japan funds $3.2m for polio eradication programme

March 03, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Japan on Friday announced for providing $3.2 million funding for procurement of equipment for Laboratory at National Institute of Health (NIH) to help Pakistan for placing state of the art sample testing facility to curb polio as early as possible.

Although, no case has been reported in Pakistan infected with Polio virus in last few months but international community has geared up efforts by providing $250 million for achieving its eradication during the current fiscal year.

Globally, there is commitment of $1 billion for this immunization and control of polio programme and one fourth is being utilised in Pakistan alone.

With the procurement of state-of-the-art molecular-biology equipment including genetic analysers, real time PCR machines, incubators and freezers, among others, the laboratory will significantly enhance its sample processing capacity. Through this new equipment, the RRL will improve the speed of the results reported from stool samples it receives, of people suffering from acute flaccid paralysis, in addition to samples taken from the sewage in areas identified as being at risk of polio. In 2017 alone, the RRL tested 30,000 stool samples and 950 environmental samples coming from both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In addition, the Japanese grant will be used to replace aging stocks of cold chain materials, reagents and other essential equipment needed to be able to accurately isolate and identify the wild polio virus from the stool and environmental samples.

In an event hosted by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, the notes corresponding to this grant were officially signed by the representatives of the government of Japan, Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Federal Minister of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said: “The steady support of the government of Japan and other partners, and the strong partnership have been crucial elements of the programme’s tremendous progress over the past two years. The new grant will help strengthen polio surveillance through adaptation of new technology and contribute towards polio eradication in the country.”

Takashi Kurai, Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan said: “Maintaining the strong polio surveillance system that has been established in Pakistan remains critical for eradication work. We are pleased to be a part of this honourable initiative. However, in order to eradicate polio altogether from Pakistan, it’s not sufficient to promote vaccination activities. We should also address the unawareness of the matter among the people and the need for building up of the necessary infrastructure for enhancing the activities. Japan will continue to support Pakistan for polio eradication from a wider perspective in order to achieve the complete eradication of polio.”

Yasuhiro Tojo, Chief Representative, JICA Pakistan office said: “JICA is supporting polio programme and routine immunization since 1996 and 2001 respectively”. He further added: “I sincerely believe that through the concerted implementation of this grant aid, the polio surveillance system will progress across the provinces and districts. This will improve the routine immunization situation in the country including polio that will help the government of Pakistan not only to eradicate polio but also to sustain polio-free Pakistan after eradication.”