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Global donors express confidence in Pakistan’s capacity to eradicate polio

ISLAMABAD: Leading international donor agencies have expressed their full confidence in the Pakistan’s capacity to achieve polio eradication in the near future.

A meeting of the key international donors and partners including representatives of the Islamic Development Bank, Rotary International, Government of Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as WHO, UNICEF, USAID and CDC was called by the newly nominated prime minister’s focal person on polio eradication Babar Bin Atta.

The PM’s focal person said the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan are fully committed to stopping the transmission of polio in Pakistan.

“We are not only going to sustain the gains made over the past years, but also to accelerate the progress by focusing on reaching the repeatedly missed children in next campaigns, especially during the upcoming winter,” he added.

National Emergency Operations Centre coordinator Rana Muhammad Safdar said Pakistan has made remarkable progress in protecting every child from polio which is a devastating, yet vaccine preventable disease.

“The number of polio cases fell from almost 20,000 each year in the early 1990s to only eight last year, and four so far this year.

“Despite significant case decline the presence of the virus in the sewerage water indicate that the job is not over yet. We are working hard to plug the immunity gaps by addressing the remaining challenges in core reservoirs,” he said.

International donors and partners congratulated Atta on his appointment as prime minister’s focal person on polio eradication, and appreciated the government’s commitment to hit the virus hard during the low transmission season and end polio in Pakistan once and for all.

“We are proud of our partnership with the high performing country programme and will be diligently working with the new Government to eradicating polio from Pakistan,” said Dr. Umer Mir of the Islamic Development Bank.

The representatives of WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, JICA, CDC, Bill Melinda & Gates Foundation, USAID as well as the governments of Canada, Germany, and Japan also expressed similar sentiments.

Strengthening of routine immunisation, focusing safe water and sanitation and addressing malnutrition in core reservoirs were among other identified priorities to achieve and sustain the virus interruption.

The polio eradication initiative is led by the government of Pakistan and financed by a wide range of public and private donors.

Atta thanked the international partners and donors for their unwavering support over the years, and vowed to do whatever it takes to eradicate polio from Pakistan as soon as possible.

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