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November 20, 2018

Japan provides $4.6m for purchase of polio vaccine

Islamabad

November 20, 2018

Islamabad: In continuation of its traditional commitment, the government of Japan has announced to provide $4.6 million in grant aid for the procurement of 25 million doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), which will be used during campaigns scheduled for the 2018-19 low transmission season of the virus.

Notes of the grant were signed and exchanged between the government of Japan, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The vaccine will be sufficient to immunize children under the age of five in all

the high-risk districts of Pakistan, thereby enabling the programme to close immunity gaps.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani said, “The government is committed to polio eradication, which is a top priority of the Ministry of Health. No effort will be spared in attaining the goal of a polio-free Pakistan.” He thanked the Japan and other partners for their support to the cause.

The Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta said, “Pakistan’s programme is rated among one of the best public health service delivery initiatives. We are proud of our achievements and keen to achieve our goal of interrupting poliovirus during this critical low season.”

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Pakistan Takashi Kurai termed polio as a global challenge for public health, and hoped that the long cherished goal of complete eradication of this disease from Pakistan will soon materialize.

Chief Representative of JICA Yasuhiro Tojo hoped that the Japanese government’s support to procure additional oral polio vaccine will accelerate the country’s pace towards achieving major milestones in the race against polio.

Deputy Representative of UNICEF Cristian Munduate said, “The new grant comes at a time when the country is making headway towards stopping poliovirus circulation. I am confident that with sustained commitment of the government of Pakistan and strong support from all partners, we will defeat the virus very soon.”

From 306 cases in 2014, the number of polio cases in Pakistan declined to 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016, and down to eight in 2017. So far in 2018, a total of eight cases have been reported. Under the National Emergency Action Plan, the programme has planned to conduct 9 national and sub-national immunization campaigns during the 2018-19 low season besides undertaking special efforts to address immunity gaps in select areas and maintain permanent and transit point vaccination. This plan necessitates increased demand for OPV, which will be covered by the existing funding while the Japanese grant will cover the full case response requirement. Japan has been supporting the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan since 1996. The grant and loan contribution from its government amounts to $225.12 million.

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