Islamabad: The Government of Japan through its welfare organization Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide 3 million US dollars to eradicate polio from Pakistan. JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) signed an agreement here in Islamabad on Tuesday to support interruption of the wild polio virus in Pakistan. The Government of Japan has been supporting the Polio Eradication campaign in Pakistan since 1996. Approximately US$ 153 million has been delivered to date, for procurement of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), and strengthening vaccine management and cold chain system.
On the occasion Mr. Junya Matsuura, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Japan to Pakistan expressed his appreciation for the significant progress of the polio eradication programme in 2015 and emphasized the importance of solidarity of all stakeholders. He also said, “Japan’s commitment and strong partnership with the Government of Pakistan and UNICEF will continue to complete polio eradication in Pakistan”.
Mr. Yasuhiro Tojo, Chief Representative of JICA in Pakistan said, “We are hopeful that this grant will serve as a drive for the final phase of Pakistan’s fight against polio virus. Pakistan today stands on the brink of eradicating polio, and there’s every reason to hope that, within the next year, Pakistan will join other countries where transmission of the disease has been halted”.
Ms. Angela Kearney, Representative of UNICEF in Pakistan says “this latest contribution by the Government of Japan could not come at a more important time. The upcoming campaigns are some of the best-prepared and highest quality in Pakistan’s history, and if the vaccination campaigns are fully and consistently implemented in all areas, Pakistan could stop polio this year”.
Prime Minister Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, applauded the grant saying: “The Government of Japan has been consistently helping children in Pakistan. These funds come at a critical juncture as the virus is cornered in just three remaining sanctuaries – the Khyber-Peshawar corridor, Karachi and the Quetta block.
Pakistan is making significant progress in the fight against polio. Last year, Pakistan achieved an 82% reduction in the number of children paralyzed by polio down to 54 cases compared to 306 in 2014. The polio eradication programme has undertaken key strategic shift from quantity to quality campaigns, moving the focus to the continuously missed children, putting the frontline worker at the centre of the eradication effort and the establishment of the Emergency Operations Centres to bring greater coordination, planning and oversight for operations which has led to the improvements seen in 2015.
The grant will help procurement of 16,078,990 doses of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV); sufficient to vaccinate 14,356,241 children under the age of five in ten mop-up campaigns during 2016.