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December 12, 2019

Japan provides $4.5m aid for polio eradication

Islamabad

December 12, 2019

Islamabad : The government of Japan Wednesday provided $4.5 million grant aid for procurement of 22.9 million doses of oral polio vaccine, thereby enabling Pakistan to reach over 20 million under-five children during vaccination drives planned from December 2019 to November 2020.

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) in the presence of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for National Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza, and other officials and dignitaries.

“Pakistan is currently facing a challenging situation in polio eradication. However, the government is committed to making all-out efforts to ensure all children receive the essential vaccine. It is our topmost priority to make Pakistan polio-free,” Dr. Zafar Mirza said during the signing ceremony. “Continuous support from the government of Japan and partners will help us to maintain high-quality campaigns and reach every child in Pakistan with this essential polio vaccine,” he said, expressing gratitude to all partners.

Yusuke Shindo, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of Japan said, “The government of Japan, together with the government of Pakistan and UNICEF, is determined to eradicate polio virus from Pakistan. For that purpose, we expect Pakistan to take further initiative and redouble its effort to eradicate polio; this includes educating people how dangerous polio virus can be.”

Aida Girma, UNICEF representative in Pakistan also thanked the people and the gvernment of Japan for their generous contributions to the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme. “The new grant comes at a time when the country is facing challenges to stopping poliovirus circulation. This funding will immensely contribute to strengthening immunity among children,” she said adding, “I am confident that with sustained commitment from Pakistan and strong support from all partners, we will be able to reach our goal, polio-free Pakistan.”

JICA’s Chief Representative Shigeki Furuta added, “Now we are approaching the most difficult time where all stakeholders are putting in their best efforts. We are proud that JICA can contribute to admirable efforts to protect Pakistani children from polio through vaccine procurement. JICA expects that the vaccine, the only way to strengthen children’s immunity, will be used effectively with the understanding of parents and communities, and the efforts of frontline workers.”

Japan has been supporting the Polio Eradication Programme in Pakistan since 1996. Its grant and loan contributions have amounted to more than $221.87 million.

Pakistan has made considerable progress in reducing poliovirus transmission in recent years. However, in 2019 the programme has seen a significant spread of the virus as the number of children missed during house-to-house campaigns resulted in an upsurge of polio cases in the country. As of December 8, 2019, as many as 94 polio cases across have been reported, of which 68 have been confirmed from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Polio Eradication Programme plans to deliver basic core strategies for polio eradication in 2020, including ensuring high-quality Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIA) that are able to interrupt virus transmission. There will be three NIDs and three SNIDs in 2020.

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