ISLAMABAD: The Japanese government has announced a grant of over $3.87 million for the polio eradication programme in Pakistan and procurement of essential oral polio vaccine to reach more than 18.61 million children under five years of age living in endemic and outbreak districts.

The notes of the grant were signed and exchanged between the Jap­an­ese government and the UN Child­ren’s Fund (Unicef) and between Ja­­pan International Cooperation Age­ncy (Jica) and Unicef in Islamabad on Thursday. Minister for National Health Serv­ices, Regulation and Coordination Abdul Qadir Patel was present during the signing ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Patel said Pakistan had come a long way over the last 30 years, and 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”.

Referring to the government’s commitment to polio eradication, the minister said the programme had successfully restricted the virus circulation to endemic districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and “we are committed and optimistic about eradicating polio by 2023”.

Ambassador of Japan Wada Mit­su­hiro commended the government and Unicef for their tireless efforts in emergency vaccination campaigns in KP and establishing transit points in North Waziristan to limit the spread of wild poliovirus. He reiterated his country’s continuous support for eradicating poliovirus, saying Japan will continuously support 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,” he added.

“The government, Unicef and Japan has a strong target to achieve polio-free Pakistan by the end of 2023,” said Jica Chief Representative in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022

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