Saudi Arabia has handed over more than 10 million doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to Pakistan to ensure that everyone intending to travel abroad is vaccinated. The vaccine will fulfil the vaccination requirement of Pakistani travellers for almost a year.
Saudi Arabian Ambassador Jassim Mohammad Al-Khaldi handed over the vaccines to Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) National Programme Manager Ijaz Khan at a ceremony held at the EPI office in Chak Shehzad on Friday.
The Saudi government pledged to donate the polio vaccine in a meeting that took place between the State Minister for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) Saira Afzal Tarar and a Saudi government representative, on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly last April.
Earlier in May this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) imposed travel restriction on Pakistan due to its failure to control the spread of polio virus.
The Pakistan government conveyed to the WHO that it was not prepared for these restrictions and needed time for procuring vaccine and printing certificates to issue to people intending to travel abroad.
The government asked for a month for effective implementation of the restrictions imposed on it and later from June 1 started using OPV from the available stock of vaccines for routine immunisation.
The donation given by the Saudi government will help Pakistan fulfil the need.
This donation will be used to vaccinate travellers in the light of International Travel Regulations for countries where polio is endemic.
The acting Saudi ambassador reiterated his government’s commitment to support Pakistan and prayed for the country be free of polio.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2014.
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