Pakistan to get $10m for polio eradication

Updated Dec 19 2019

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A health worker administers polio drops upon children. — AFP/File
A health worker administers polio drops upon children. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will receive $10 million for polio eradication from the Lives and Livelihood Fund (LLF), a partnership between the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced Hammad Azhar, federal minister for economic affairs, on Wednesday.

The announcement was made at the launching ceremony of the Pakistan Polio Eradica­tion Programme (2019-2021), where the minister said, according to a statement released by the Economic Affairs Division, “Today, we are celebrating our long-established partnership with the IDB. Over the years, we have come to rely on it to help us combat polio.”

He also thanked the LLF for the grant in addition to an earlier loan of $90 million for polio eradication, stated the press release.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza also spoke at the event, stated the press release. The financial assistance provided by the IDB has strengthened operations and surveillance activities of the programme, he said.

“It has made the polio eradication programme more adaptable and responsive to dynamic and rapidly changing polio eradication environment. The IDB has provided huge financial support to Pakistan for polio eradication and also contributed to bringing a ‘religious’ element in the programme which has positively influenced the community’s trust and acceptance,” he said.

The IDB and LLF representatives i.e. Islamic Soli­darity Fund for Develop­ment, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Qatar Fund for Development, King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development praised the government of Pakistan for its efforts in polio eradication and assured it of their continued support in the fight against poliovirus, stated the press release.

The LLF mission also visited the outskirts of Islamabad Capital Territory and participated in an activity under the nationwide vaccination campaign which began on Dec 16, under which 39.5 million children under the age of five are being vaccinated.

In November, the Pakistani government had assured its international donors and partners at an event held in Abu Dhabi of their renewed efforts in eradicating poliovirus amid serious concerns of a resurgence in the country.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2019