Japan bolsters polio eradication in Pakistan


Islamabad: The Government of Japan and UNICEF will boost up the global eradication effort in one of the last strongholds of polio virus in the world. The grant, concluded Friday in Islamabad between the Japanese Government and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), will be used to procure the oral polio vaccine, cold chain equipment and capacity building programmes throughout 2014. The Japanese Government will disburse 389 million Japanese Yen (equivalent to US$ 3.7 million or Rs. 400 million) to UNICEF immediately.

Hiroshi Inomata, Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan affirmed Japan’s strong commitment to help infected countries’ effort to get rid of the polio menace once and for all. “Japan’s commitment and strong partnership with polio infected countries will continue until the day of complete eradication of polio from the world”, he said. He also emphasized that Pakistan and the international development partners should not weaken their effort for polio eradication for future generations despite the existing complex challenges facing the programme in Pakistan.

The Government of Japan has supported the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan since 1996. Total Japanese grant assistance by 2013 comes up to approximately US$ 90.95 million, and has accounted for 22% of all oral polio vaccine procured so far.

Kawasaki, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Pakistan, paid tribute to the hard works done by all those who are involved with the polio vaccination campaigns. “This year’s grant assistance will enable UNICEF to procure 15 million oral polio vaccine doses and 255 solar-powered ice line refrigerators particularly for the heavy load shedding areas in FATA and Balochistan”. This grant will serve as a drive for the final phase of the Pakistan’s fight against polio virus” Mr. Kawasaki added.

Kawasaki also announced that JICA is about to start new Technical Cooperation Project for Routine Immunization in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for three years period from May. Through the bottom up support in the field, the project will contribute KPK to achieve over 80% coverage of Routine Immunization.

Dan Rohrmann Representative of UNICEF in Pakistan thanked the Government of Japan which is one of the leading supporters of UNICEF globally and is one of the largest donors in Pakistan’s polio eradication programme.

UNICEF Pakistan provides support to the polio eradication program through social mobilization and vaccine procurement and management. A network of nearly 1,500 social mobilizers and communicators COMNet has been based in the high risk districts. The network is strengthening the eradication effort through reaching out to existing community groups and influencers who can take a leadership role in polio and child health campaigns.

“We can and will ensure that the right of children to access vaccination is realized and thus eradicate polio forever from Pakistan,” said Rohrmann.

The latest grant of the Government of Japan will be used to ensure that sufficient quantities of vaccine are available for mop up campaigns and cold chain maintenance. An amount of US 2,206,603 will be utilized to procure approximately 15,134,450 doses of OPV to be used specifically for mop-ups, especially in areas with outbreaks of wild polio virus, US 1,052,738 will be utilized for procurement of cold chain equipment for strengthening the vaccine management component and US 71,000 for cold chain technician training.

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