Islamabad: A Grant Agreement on the provision of funds worth Two Hundred and Twenty Six million (226,000,000) Japanese Yen (US $ 2,623,046) for “The Project for the Control and Eradication of Poliomyelitis” in Pakistan was executed between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the procurement of oral polio vaccine and social mobilization during the year 2013.
Mr. Akira Kono, Charge d Affaires, Embassy of Japan in Pakistan and Ms Karen Allen, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Pakistan, signed the Exchange of Notes. Mr. Toshiya Sato, Senior Representative of JICA and Ms Karen Allen signed the Grant Agreement for the release of funds for the said purpose.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination, Government of Pakistan, Mr Faridullah Khan said, today’s ceremony sends a strong message about the importance of partnership and ownership. At this critical time, he said, these types of opportunities assist to reinvigorate commitment and participation in the polio programme country-wide. It is only through strong commitment at all levels that polio eradication can be achieved.
He said that the Government of Pakistan has put health sector reform at the top of its agenda and has reinvigorated its commitment to achieve the MDGs. Commitment to improving immunization as one of the key indicators for ensuring a reduction in childhood morbidity and mortality has never been so high and this support for procurement of vaccine would help address our vaccination needs.
Mr. Akira Kono, Charge d Affaires, Embassy of Japan in Pakistan said that Japan’s commitment and strong partnership with polio infected countries as well as development partners will continue until the day of complete eradication of polio from the world. He paid tribute to the dedication of vaccinators, community based health workers, security workers, volunteers and all relevant staff who conduct immunization campaign in challenging situations.
The Government of Japan has supported the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan since 1996. Total grant assistance made so far by the Government of Japan comes up to approximately US$ 91.92 million, and has accounted for 26% of all oral polio vaccine procured so far.
Senior Representative JICA Mr Toshiya Sato expressed the resolve to help Pakistan address child health issues and eradicate polio from the country.
In her remarks, Ms Karen Allen, Deputy Representative UNICEF Pakistan, thanked the Government of Japan which is one of the leading supporters of UNICEF globally and is one of the largest donors in Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts. UNICEF Pakistan provides support to the polio eradication programme through social mobilization and vaccine procurement. Through a third-party agreement nearly 1100 staff is engaged in 33 high risk districts across Pakistan to provide social mobilization support to the program and increase acceptance and demand for oral polio vaccine. Ms Allen said, we can and will ensure that the right of children to access vaccination becomes a reality and thus eradicate polio forever from Pakistan.”
Mr. Per Engebak, Polio Team Lead UNICEF Pakistan, said nothing short of polio eradication from Pakistan would honor the services of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and laid their lives to vaccinate children against polio virus. The last mile in marathon is always the most difficult one and same is the case with polio eradication which is close to eradication and the last mile proving to the toughest.
The latest support provided by Government of Japan will be used to ensure that sufficient quantities of vaccine are available for mop up campaigns, case response and Short Interval Additional Dose Strategy (SIADs), especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and FATA, and for communication materials for religious influencers, IEC material and cross boarder communication materials.