ISLAMABAD: For the eradication of Polio, the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) signed agreements on Monday to make sure children are vaccinated in Pakistan, one of the last polio virus strongholds in the world.
Mr. Amir Sheikh, Joint Secretary, MoNHSRC witnessed the ceremony on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. The USD 5.4 million (562 million Japanese Yen) worth grant will contribute to supporting UNICEF’s commitment towards polio eradication effort during the period December 2014-November 2015.
Japan’s donation will make it possible for UNICEF to procure 15 million doses of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) for mop-up campaigns, 1.3 million doses of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) for children in high risk areas of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Karachi, 100 solar ice-lined refrigerators (ILRs) for districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and FATA, backup generators and temperature monitoring systems for strengthening the cold chain at Federal, KPK, Balochistan and FATA vaccine stores.
The grant will also strengthen the vaccine management through provision of cold chain and logistic personnel at Federal, FATA and four provinces.
Hiroshi Inomata, Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to help Pakistan to get rid of this preventable disease. He recalled that the Government of Japan has supported the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan since 1996. Japan’s assistance amounts to approximately USD149 million (JPY 15.5 billion, Rs. 15.2 billion).
Given a large increase in the number of polio cases this year, Ambassador Inomata called on the Government of Pakistan and its partners to redouble their efforts to address the existing complex challenge in the fight against polio. He welcomed the commitment of the Government of Pakistan shown in the National Task Force Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 5 November.
He reiterated Japan’s commitment to working together until the day of its complete eradication.
Mr. Mitsuyoshi Kawasaki, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Pakistan, emphasized urgent needs of fully organized service delivery system of immunization programme.
“This grant addresses urgent needs of current polio situation in Pakistan and will enable children to acquire rapid immunization among children influx from FATA who have had zero dose since June 2012 and children who hardly get immunity with OPV.
Provision of ILRs and human resource for vaccine management will contribute to make immunization activities further effective. We are hopeful that this grant will serve as a drive for the final phase of Pakistan’s fight against polio virus”.
Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan added “this latest contribution by the Government of Japan comes at a critical time when the number of children paralyzed by polio and the risk of transmission to other countries is the highest in a decade”,
Pakistan is at cross roads on polio eradication. The number of polio cases has been on the rise, and concerted efforts are necessary to reverse this trend and achieve the goal of a world free of polio.
Eradicating polio will not only benefit children in Pakistan, but will ensure that no child, anywhere, will ever suffer from this disease again.
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