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Japan Provides 6.5 m to UNICEF for polio

© UNICEF/Asad/JG_0001
Ambassador of Japan, NobuakiTanaka and UNICEF Rep. Omar Abdi excanging notes

Islamabad: November 10, 2005,  A Signing Ceremony and Exchange of Notes took place here today between the Government of Japan and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) whereby Japan would provide further funds of  721 million yen equivalent to US$ 6.5 million to continue its support to the National Polio Eradication Programme. His Excellency, Mr. Nobuaki Tanaka, Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, and Mr. Omar Ahmed Abdi, UNICEF Representative signed the agreement while the Federal Minister for Health, Mohammad Nasir Khan was the Chief Guest on the occasion.

Funds provided by the Government of Japan would be used to procure 46 million doses of oral polio vaccine during the next one year. This vaccine will be administered to around 34.3 million Pakistani children under the age of five across the country and is equivalent to approximately 28 percent of the vaccine requirement for 2005.

Speaking on the occasion, the Federal Minister for Health Mohammad Nasir Khan said “We are committed to eradicate polio from Pakistan and are grateful to the people and government of Japan for their generous and ongoing support to this end. Latest contribution made by Japan is substantial and would help us procure polio vaccines during next year.” 

“The polio eradication campaign and our joint efforts have become all the more important in the context of the devastating earthquake that struck Pakistan on 8th October. The key challenge this time is of securing access to all children, including those affected by the unprecedented earthquake,” said the Japanese Ambassador, NobuakiTanaka.

While thanking the people and Government of Japan, UNICEF Representative, Mr. Omar Abdi said, “Japan continues to be one of the largest bilateral donors for polio eradication in Pakistan. In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Pakistan on 8 October, resulting in a terrible loss of life and enduring hardship for millions of parents and children, we can highlight the importance of ensuring that the children suffering from this tragedy are also protected from polio. The Ministry of Health and its polio partners initiated immunization activities in these affected populations, including the provision of OPV. The coming national immunization days will continue to include the children in NWFP and AJK to ensure that they are protected against an additional hardship on top of their already tremendous ordeal.”

The Government of Japan has supported the Polio Eradication Programme in Pakistan since 1996. Total contribution made so far by the Government of Japan comes up to US$ 65.2 million US dollars (7,558 million-yen), a sum which is a significant contribution towards reducing the number of polio cases in Pakistan.

UNICEF, along with other partners, has supported the Government of Pakistan in conducting National Polio Immunization Days since 1994. To date in 2005, Pakistan has had only 19 polio cases, representing the lowest number of cases ever. With continued high-quality polio campaigns, it is very likely that Pakistani children will finally be free of the polio menace in the coming months. UNICEF will continue to support the Government to conduct National Immunization Days over the coming years to ensure that Pakistan is entirely rid of this terrible disease.    



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