Japan helps Pakistan to become polio free country in three years

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Japan has approved US$ 2.98 million grant aid to help the government in its efforts to make Pakistan a polio free country in next three years.

A formal agreement would be signed between Japanese government and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in next week to support ongoing Polio Eradication Programme in Pakistan, Representative of UNICEF in Pakistan Ms. Angela Kearney told APP here on Thursday.

The Japanese grant would enable the Pakistan government through UNICEF to procure 16 million doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to conduct 10 rounds of door to door immunizations campaigns in order to outreach and vaccinate as many children as possible.

Appreciating dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, she informed that due to all out efforts of the present government, there has been a drastic decrease in polio cases in Pakistan during the last three years.

Giving the detail, the UNICEF Representative said that 306 cases of polio were reported in the year 2014.

In the year 2015, with the untiring efforts of Pakistani health authorities, these cases were reduced to 54.

However, only five polio cases have been reported in first two months of this year which is a great successes.

Ms. Angela said, “We have got polio virus under pressure. We will be able to Pakistan a polio free country if we are able to interrupt virus transmission.”

Responding to a question, she hoped that after three years there would not be a full polio eradication campaign, adding, but the campaign would continue in targeted area.

The UNICEF Representative informed that from 1996 to 2015, the contribution to Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative from Japan is accumulated to US$ 153.5 million.

The Grant Aid was used for approximately 976 million doses of vaccine (OPV) procurement by 2014.

On the quality of vaccine, she made it clear that the vaccine being used to eradicate polio is of international standard, adding, “We have also a comprehensive monitoring system to ensure that quality vaccine is administered to children.”

To yet another question, she informed that parliamentarians and religious leaders are involved for raising awareness.

She said, training for the vaccinators at the permanent transit points is carried out for strengthening vaccination activities to address Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) influx and mobile population from the high risk areas.