Japan to provide 520 million yen to Pakistan for polio eradication


ISLAMABAD: Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Takashi Kurai and UNICEF Pakistan Acting Country Representative Cristian Munduate have signed an agreement which states that the government of Japan will provide a grant of 520 million yen to support supply of polio vaccination to Pakistan during the 2017-2018 low transmission season of polio virus.

The grant notes were signed and exchanged between the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday.

The grant worth US$ 4.63 million will support the procurement of over 28 million doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV), sufficient to vaccinate 25 million children under the age of five in the high risk districts across Pakistan, in an attempt to quickly close gaps in immunity in the country.

Speaking on the occasion, the Japanese ambassador commented, “Polio is indeed a global challenge for public health but this crippling disease is preventable by vaccination. Japan continues to support polio vaccination in Pakistan. I hope that every child is vaccinated and very soon, we will achieve the long cherished goal of complete eradication of this disease from Pakistan.”

Ms. Cristian Munduate also spoke on the occasion, saying that the grant came at a time when Pakistan was making headway in stopping polio virus circulation. She said that she was confident that with sustained commitment of Pakistani government and strong support from its partners, the virus will be defeated during the low transmission season.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq appreciated the Japanese government’s commitment to the cause and acknowledged the latter’s support through various difficult times that Pakistan had faced. She said that Pakistan’s polio programme was rated among one of the best initiatives of health services delivery across the globe. She expressed hope that the transmission of polio virus during the low transmission season will be completely stopped, adding that only five cases of polio had come up so far in 2017. This meant that the government had never been in a better place to achieve its goal of eradicating the disease altogether, she said.

JICA Chief Representative Yasuhiro Tojo also acknowledged the record low number of polio virus cases in Pakistan, saying that it was a clear indication of Pakistan’s determination to eliminate polio.