ISLAMABAD: Regional Director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) George Laryea-Adjei on Sunday said that Covid-related disruptions had had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable children and families over the past year and it was critical to ensure that lifesaving, essential services for children and mothers, including routine immunisation, kept running even as the pandemic continues.

“Unicef will continue to support the government to respond to the pandemic and to build more resilient health and education systems that can reach every child,” said Unicef’s regional director for South Asia on the conclusion of his first official visit to Pakistan.

During his visit, Mr Laryea-Adjei stressed the importance of ensuring continuity of essential services for women and children.

He began his visit by meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan with members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Board in Islamabad. Together with Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, World Health Organisation’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, and representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Laryea-Adjei attended the launch of the June polio campaign.

“It is inspiring to see the commitment of frontline workers and communities towards our joint vision of a polio-free Pakistan. I applaud the efforts to deepen the link between the polio eradication programme and routine immunisation, which is a significant step in the right direction,” he said.

Mr Laryea-Adjei visited Peshawar’s Shaheen Muslim Town and Karachi’s Gujro, two super high-risk districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Sindh where polio was endemic.

Unicef works with provincial authorities to run integrated services delivery programmes that seek to provide a package of essential services in high-risk communities.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

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