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October 18, 2017

Japan provides 520 million Yen to assist Pakistan's efforts for Polio Eradication
New US$ 4.63 million Japanese grant to procure Oral Polio Vaccine

PhotoMr. Yasuhiro Tojo and Ms. Cristian Munduate exchanging grant agreements at the signing ceremony

Islamabad, 18 October 2017: The Government of Japan has announced today to provide a grant of 520 million Yen to support supply of the essential polio vaccine for the case response and mop up vaccination campaigns during the 2017-2018 low transmission season of the poliovirus.

The grant notes were signed and exchanged today between the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The grant worth US$ 4.63 million will support the procurement of over 28 million doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV); sufficient to vaccinate 25 million children under the age of five in the high risk districts across Pakistan enabling the programme to quickly close the immunity gaps.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs Saira Afzal Tarar, Federal Minister of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination said "The steady support of the Government of Japan and other partners and the seamless working together has been a crucial element of our successes in last two years. Defeating polio through the collective approach motivates us to achieving broader health priorities and development milestones for the children and people of Pakistan."

Acknowledging the commitment by the Government of Japan, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Prime Minister's Focal Person for Polio Eradication said "Over the years, the government and people of Japan have stood by us even during the difficult times. Pakistan's programme is today rated among one of the best public health service delivery initiative across the globe. We are proud of our achievements so far and are keen to achieve our goal of interrupting the poliovirus during this critical low season. With five cases at this point in 2017, our programme has never been in a better place to do so."

H.E. Takashi Kurai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Pakistan said: "Polio is indeed a global challenge for public health but this crippling disease is preventable by vaccination. Japan continues to support polio vaccination in Pakistan and I do hope that every child is surely vaccinated and very soon, we will achieve the long cherished goal of complete eradication of this disease from Pakistan."

Mr. Yasuhiro Tojo, Chief Representative, JICA in Pakistan said "the determination of Pakistan to wipe out the poliovirus can be clearly seen in the record low number of cases. We are glad to be part of this admirable effort and hope that our support to procure additional oral polio vaccine will accelerate the country's pace towards achieving this milestone."

Ms. Cristian Munduate, Acting Country Representative of UNICEF Pakistan said "the new grant comes at a time when the country is making headway towards stopping poliovirus circulation I am confident that with the sustained commitment from the Government of Pakistan and strong support from all partners, together we will defeat the virus during this low transmission season."

Pakistan is making significant progress in the fight against polio as only five cases have been recorded so far this year compared to 16 by this time in 2016. The purpose of multiple vaccinations is to fully protect each individual child and to contribute to the protection of every child within the community by building and maintaining high population immunity to stop transmission of the wild poliovirus.

Under the National Emergency Action Plan, the programme has planned to conduct 10 national and sub-national immunization campaigns during the 2017-18 low season besides undertaking the special efforts to address immunity gaps in select areas and maintain permanent and transit point vaccination. This aggressive plan necessitates increased demand for the OPV during the various immunization activities, which will be covered by the existing funding while the Japanese grant will cover the full case response requirement.

The Government of Japan has been supporting the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan since 1996. Approximately JPY 24 billion (US$ 218.35 million) has been funded including this grant of JPY 520 million, for procurement of oral polio vaccine (OPV), inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and cold chain equipment to strengthen vaccine management.

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