To sustain polio campaigns in the country, the government signed agreements worth $72 million with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on Friday.
The first agreement signed between the government and Unicef is worth $41 million and includes the World Bank’s fund for polio vaccines. The second agreement signed between the government and the WHO is worth $31million and pledges support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), an independent government agency assisting economic growth in developing countries.
With the rise in polio cases, it is pivotal for the government to take quick measures, Inter-Provincial Coordination Division Secretary Arif Azeem said.
Azeem said 32 million children are being protected annually from the life-long disability through polio campaigns. “But we are confronted with a daunting task of 75 new cases reported this year,” he added.
The secretary said that he was pleased to inform that Punjab, the country’s most populous province, has so far reported no polio case this year. “Sindh has done remarkably well and there has been a turnaround with no polio case reported over a considerable period of time,” Azeem said.
WHO representative Dr Guido Sabatinelli said the support provided through his organisation will help meet the operational expenses for polio campaigns. Unicef’s country head Dan Rohrmann too expressed full support for the initiative.
Rohrmann said that the $41-million amount will be used by Unicef to provide 250 million doses of polio vaccine to the Pakistan government. “This will meet the country’s requirements for a period of nine months,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.