Japan announces new $4.35m polio grant

Our Correspondent
Tuesday, Dec 14, 2021

Islamabad: The Government of Japan announced a $4.35 million grant for procurement of 24 million oral doses of polio vaccine as part of its continued support to Pakistan for its polio eradication efforts.

The support will allow the programme to reach around 21 million children under five years old with focus on the high-risk districts with persistent poliovirus transmission. The vaccines will be used during vaccination drives planned in 2022 as part of the programme’s strategic goal to permanently interrupt poliovirus transmission in Pakistan by end-2023.

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

“The polio eradication efforts made substantive progress this year by limiting virus and achieving a significant decrease in cases despite challenges posed by COVID-19. The programme is confident to permanently interrupt all types of polioviruses by the end of 2023,” said Dr. Shahzad Baig, National Coordinator of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme. Appreciating the support of the Government of Japan, he said, “We are grateful to the people and the Government of Japan for their support; the new funding will enable us to reach every child with polio vaccine.”

Japanese Ambassador Wada Mitsuhiro appreciated the progress made this year in controlling the spread of poliovirus, saying that “We are now only one step away from the goal, polio-free Pakistan.” He reiterated his support to the initiative and noted that “Japan has provided assistance in maternal and child health, polio eradication, and routine immunization in Pakistan for decades and will continue its support to directly benefit vulnerable people.”

"We are glad to witness collaborative effort between polio programme and Expanded Programme on Immunization, represented by recently conducted measles rubella and polio campaign. We are also honored that numerous polio programme experiences are utilized to fight against COVID-19, such as 1166 helpline, PCR test capacity at Polio Laboratory and vaccinators’ trainings by JICA project,” said Shigeki Furuta, Chief Representative of JICA.

“Pakistan has achieved tremendous success against interrupting polio virus this year. From 84 reported polio cases in 2020, the incidence has come down to one case in the last 11 months,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. "The last mile towards eradication, however, will be tough and requires continues support from the partners like Government of Japan to achieve a polio-free status," said Aida.

The new funding is part of the Japanese government’s continuous support to the polio programme since 1996. To date, the grant and loan contribution from the Government of Japan has amounted to approximately $230.497 million dollars in support of the polio programme in Pakistan through UNICEF.