Japan announces $3.62 million grant to support Pakistan’s Polio program

The Government of Japan has declared a new grant of $3.62 million to acquire essential oral polio vaccines, demonstrating its continued commitment to polio eradication efforts in Pakistan.

The funds will be utilized by the Pakistan Polio Program to procure over 21 million doses of vaccines, supporting polio campaigns throughout 2024.

Pakistan thanks Japan for unwavering support to end polio

Dr. Nadeem Jan, Federal Health Minister of the Government of Pakistan, expressed determination despite challenges. “As we prepare to launch polio campaigns in 2024, together with our partners we will maintain an emergency focus towards resolving the remaining challenges that stand in our way to reach all children”, he said. Jan thanked the Government and the people of Japan for their unwavering support.

As one of only two countries globally yet to eliminate polio, Pakistan reported six cases of the disease in 2023. With the cases confined to specific areas, the Government of Pakistan and its partners are gearing up for an aggressive plan in 2024 to halt this life-altering disease for children.

Pakistan Polio Eradication Program
Health worker administering polio drops to a child during anti-polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan. (Image Credit: Pakistan Polio Eradication Program)

National immunization drives aim to reach over 44 million children under five, with more than 370,000 frontline workers, predominantly women, playing a crucial role in ensuring the Polio Program’s outreach.

Polio is a highly infectious disease primarily affecting children under the age of five, causing paralysis or even death. Vaccination is the only effective way to protect children from polio. Repeated immunizations have protected millions of children globally, making most countries polio-free.

Japan’s renewed commitment to Polio Eradication

Ito Takeshi, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Japan to Pakistan, appreciated the significant gains made last year in controlling the spread of poliovirus.

Expressing sincere respect to polio workers and law enforcement agencies for their “dedicated mission for humanity,” he informed that “Japan would like to renew its commitment to continuing its efforts toward the ultimate goal of polio eradication by promoting routine immunization.”

He emphasized that the new funding is part of Japan’s continuous support of the Polio Eradication Program since 1996, totaling approximately $242.16 million through UNICEF.

Tsuyoshi Hara, Senior Representative at the JICA Pakistan Office, expressed hope that polio campaigns would be conducted successfully, reinforcing the importance of vaccines.

“We believe that vaccines, the most effective way to strengthen children’s immunity, will be used effectively with the understanding of parents and communities and the efforts of frontline workers. We sincerely hope that all the polio campaigns of this year will be conducted successfully toward zero polio cases”, Hara said.

Melissa Corkum, UNICEF Chief of Polio in Pakistan, acknowledged the progress made in 2023 but stressed the need for continued efforts. She expressed gratitude for Japan’s generous pledge, renewing the commitment to a polio-free world. “Today with this generous pledge from the Government and people of Japan, we renew our commitment to ensuring a polio-free world. One step forward, no steps back towards reaching all children with life-saving vaccines.”

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