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Japan’s $3.62 Million Boost for Polio Programs in Pakistan

In a significant move towards global health, the Government of Japan has pledged a generous $3.62 million grant to support Pakistan’s ongoing polio eradication program. This commitment is a testament to Japan’s unwavering dedication to ensuring a polio-free world, marking another milestone in its continued partnership with Pakistan.

The grant, specifically allocated for the procurement of essential oral polio vaccines, comes at a critical juncture for Pakistan, one of only two countries globally still grappling with polio. Despite progress, the nation reported six cases of polio in 2023, emphasizing the urgency and importance of sustained efforts to eliminate this life-altering disease.

With the funding, the Pakistan Polio Programme aims to procure more than 21 million doses of vaccines, facilitating extensive polio campaigns throughout 2024. These campaigns, targeting over 44 million children under the age of five, involve the crucial participation of more than 370,000 frontline workers, predominantly women, who play a pivotal role in reaching communities and ensuring vaccine coverage.

Caretaker Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan expressed Pakistan’s determination to overcome the remaining challenges, stating, “Despite the challenges, Pakistan will remain relentless in our drive to put an end to polio in the next year.” Dr Jan emphasized the crucial role of partnerships, acknowledging Japan’s instrumental support in getting closer to zero cases.

ITO Takeshi, Charge d’ Affaires ad interim of Japan to Pakistan, recognized the commendable efforts of polio workers and law enforcement agencies in controlling the spread of the poliovirus. He stressed the importance of a strong commitment by Pakistani leadership and reiterated Japan’s dedication to promoting routine immunization for long-term polio eradication.

This new funding adds to Japan’s extensive support for the Polio Eradication program since 1996, with a cumulative contribution of approximately $242.16 million through UNICEF. Tsuyoshi Hara, Senior Representative, JICA Pakistan Office, expressed confidence in the effective use of vaccines, hoping for successful polio campaigns this year toward achieving zero polio cases.

Melissa Corkum, UNICEF Chief of Polio in Pakistan, acknowledged the progress made in 2023 but emphasized the need for continued vigilance. With the generous pledge from Japan, the commitment to a polio-free world is renewed, taking one step forward and ensuring no steps back in reaching all children with life-saving vaccines.

As Japan’s support strengthens the resolve to eradicate polio, the collaborative efforts between nations bring hope for a healthier future for children in Pakistan and around the world.

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