The French Development Agency (AFD) pledged to support Pakistan’s efforts in eradicating polio by filling the $55 million funding gap left by the government.
The AFD delegation, along with representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, visited the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication and met with the country’s special health secretary during their week-long visit to Pakistan.
The French Development Agency delegation was headed by Agnès Soucat, Director of Health and Social Protection, while the Gates Foundation delegation was led by Jay Wegner, Global Head for Polio Eradication.
The AFD committed to supporting the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) in various technical areas such as disease surveillance, polio campaign monitoring, and immunization activities along with the commitment to fill the funding gap of $55 million for the PC-1 for polio eradication from 2022-2026 that the program needed.
The delegation also met with the country’s representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to discuss how the polio infrastructure played a critical role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent floods.
“Despite the challenges of the last year, the government did not waver in its resolve to eradicate polio. We remain committed to the cause and the multiple vaccination campaigns we have held since the floods are a testament to that commitment.”Special Health Secretary Mirza Nasiruddin Mashhood Ahmad said after the NEOC meeting.
The NEOC Coordinator, Dr. Shahzad Baig, expressed his gratitude to the French government for their support.
“We are very grateful to the French Government for this support. The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme is a vital part of our healthcare system and investing in polio is an investment in the country’s overall health system,” he said.
“The polio infrastructure has proven how it can offer the most reliable support for the most challenging of health emergencies like we saw with the COVID-19 response, which capitalized on the experiences of polio surveillance teams.”