The government of Japan extended its support to the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme by announcing more than $3.87 million as a 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 Pakistan living in endemic and outbreak districts, according to an official statement issued on Thursday.
The notes of the grant were signed and exchanged between the government of Japan and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and UNICEF. Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel and other dignitaries were present during the signing event.
“Pakistan has come a long way in the last 30 years. From thousands of children paralysed by poliovirus in the 1980s and 1990s, we have managed to reduce the number of cases and affected communities drastically,” said Patel.
Referring to the commitment of the government to polio eradication, the minister said, “The programme 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 appreciation for the support of Japan’s government and partners for their unwavering commitment to polio eradication.
Japan has been supporting the 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 Japan to date has amounted to more than $238.66 million dollars to support the Polio Programme in Pakistan through UNICEF.
Mitsuhiro Wada, Ambassador of Japan commended the government of Pakistan and UNICEF for their tireless efforts in emergency vaccination campaigns in southern K-P and for establishing transit points in North Waziristan to limit the spread of the wild poliovirus.
He also reiterated his continuous support for eradicating poliovirus, by saying “I would like to renew my commitment to achieve a polio-free world. Japan will continuously support the government of Pakistan and UNICEF in this regard. I sincerely hope that the national and sub-national campaigns of the 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 immunisation for children and women of reproductive age. The government of Pakistan, UNICEF and Japan have a strong target to achieve a polio-free in Pakistan by the end of 2023. I would appreciate the continuous and unwavering leadership and commitment of the government 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 and families living in endemic and outbreak districts following the devastating recent floods.
“Through the unwavering support and generosity of the people and government of Japan, more children can now be immunised to prevent the devastation of paralysis and even death. We are now closer to securing a polio-free future for all.”