Japan renews commitment to support polio eradication in Pakistan
New US$ four million Japanese grant to procure Inactivated Polio Vaccine
Islamabad - 29 November 2016: The Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) signed today an agreement of Japanese Yen 404 million (US$ 4 million) grant for “the Project for the Control and Eradication of Poliomyelitis”.
This latest grant will support the procurement of 3.9 million doses of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and associated items; sufficient to vaccinate 3.3 million children between 4 to 23 months of age in the highest risk districts of the polio virus in Pakistan.
Speaking at signing ceremony, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Prime Minister Focal Person for Polio Eradication said: “The current polio virus picture for Pakistan is the best ever seen. We are most definitely at a crossroad now - we are close but we will need everyone’s commitment to reach our goal. I take this opportunity to extend the appreciation and gratitude to Government of Japan for its unwavering support to Pakistan’s effort to reach every missed child, and to end polio forever”.
H.E. Takashi Kurai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Pakistan was optimistic about headway in polio control. “We are hopeful that the use of IPV in vaccination campaigns will ensure any emerging immunity gap among the new born and other children younger than two years in areas that continue to harbour the polio virus is quickly closed”, said the Japanese Ambassador
Mr. Yasuhiro Tojo, Chief Representative, JICA in Pakistan said “There has been real progress in reducing the number of new infections in Pakistan. Now is the time to make the final push to eradicate polio. We hope this investment will ensure future generations will no longer have their lives blighted by this crippling disease”.
Ms. Cristian Munduate, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Pakistan says “Japan is a time-honored and trusted supporter of the children of Pakistan. UNICEF is thankful to Government and people of Japan for their generous contributions to Pakistan Polio Programme. This grant represents a major commitment by Japan to the health of children in Pakistan”, she said.
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. During the current year Pakistan has shown further improvement by bringing down the number of cases from 45 in November 2015 to 18 so far in 2016.
Note to Editors:
The Government of Japan has supported the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan since 1996. Approximately JPY 23 billion (US$ 216.53 million) has been delivered to date, for procurement of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), strengthening vaccine management and cold chain system.
Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme has added inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to vaccination campaigns in 2016 in the highest risk districts of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some agencies of FATA to boost individual immunity of children. In 2015 it was introduced into the routine schedule across the country as well. Combining OPV and IPV provides stronger protection against polio.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus mainly affects children under 5 years of age. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (for example, contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine.
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Zubair Muhammad (Public Relations), JICA Pakistan Office, +92 51 924-4500, Email: ZubairMuhammad.PT@jica.go.jp