Polio eradication: Provinces endorse three-year plan

Published: September 16, 2013

CDWP has agreed that the federal government will repay the loan, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to pay off the interest if Pakistan succeeds to eradicate poliovirus by the end of 2015, says health secretary. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The proposed three-year emergency plan for polio eradication is all set to be presented in the next Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting for approval.

The plan was endorsed by the provincial representatives at a high-level consultative meeting chaired by Health Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Elahi late Thursday evening. The PC-1 for the plan was drawn up on the recommendations of the National Task Force and approved by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in November 2012, National Coordinator for the Prime Minister’s Polio Cell Dr Altaf Boson said.

Talking to The Express Tribune, he said the government is signatory to a contract with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank who are providing a soft loan of $227 million, $24million and $14 million, respectively for eradication of the crippling disease by the end of 2015.

As far as transparency is concerned, he said $36 million will be handled by the provincial governments while the cost of operational expenses will be managed through the World Health Organisation (WHO) and funds for polio vaccine procurement and social mobilisation will directly go to Unicef.

CDWP has agreed that the federal government will repay the loan, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to pay off the interest if Pakistan succeeds to eradicate poliovirus by the end of 2015, he said.

“Pakistan can only achieve its target to interrupt transmission of wild polio virus by December 2013 in the country if immunisation coverage against polio reaches 95% in all campaigns to be held in the remaining months of this year,” he said.

He said immunising children in conflict-affected Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) is still a big challenge for Pakistan in its fight against polio. Dr Boson said that since January, 28 cases of polio have been reported in the country, of this six are from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, two from Punjab, three from Sindh and the rest from Fata

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2013.

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