ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme faces a projected shortfall of $22 million to carry out the remaining inoculation drives scheduled for the current year and is seeking financial assistance from international donor agencies to overcome it.
The government ran short of money this year because it carried out 17 rounds of vaccination drives this year in an uncoordinated bid to contain the disease, a senior official of the National Health Services Ministry told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
“Some additional anti-polio drives have been carried out across the country in a disorganised manner, overlapping with each other and the health ministry does not have the exact number of rounds carried out so far,” said the official.
The official said that this financial shortfall will only affect the operational activities of the anti-polio drives like paying the polio teams and it would not lead to a shortage of the polio vaccine.
“Pakistan is going to seek financial assistance either from International Islamic Bank or the World Bank to address the shortfall,” said the official. Pakistan will require $331 million for the years 2016 through 2018 to curb the spread of the polio virus.
After a flare up in previous years, there has been a dip in number of reported cases from 58 last year to 22 cases this year and a sharp decrease in refusals from the previous 0.3% to 0.11% – the lowest ever in the program’s history. As the military succeeds in clearing out militants from more parts of the tribal areas, the number of inaccessible children has dropped significantly from 250,000 to 48,000.
Pakistan has 675 Permanent Transit Vaccination Posts with 19.2 million children vaccinated in 2014 and 3.7 million thus far in 2015. In the 10 months ending March 2015, over 3.6 million outbound travelers were vaccinated against polio whereas 414,257 individuals found without a valid vaccination certificate were stopped and permitted to leave only after being vaccinated at points of exit.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2015.
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