ISLAMABAD: The government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) is determined to help Pakistan eradicate polio by 2022 through its Emirates Polio Campaign, the UAE’s ambassador to Pakistan said on Friday as the Pakistani prime minister prepared to kick off a new vaccination campaign.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. As of Oct 29, the number of wild polio virus cases stood at 77 in Pakistan and at 19 in Afghanistan.
The new anti-polio campaign launched by Pakistani PM Imran Khan will start field operations across the country from December 16. The UAE is a partner in the campaign; its polio eradication program is implemented through the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAEPAP).
“UAE has played a major role in eradicating polio by actively contributing to the financing and support of critical vaccination campaigns,” ambassador Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Alzaabi told Arab News in an interview on Friday.
He said 418,956,226 drops of polio vaccines had been administered in Pakistan between 2014 and September 2019.
The UAEPAP program started in 2010 and covers sectors such as education, infrastructure, safe drinking water, health care and polio eradication.
“From 2014 till 2019, the number of cases reduced significantly due to the efforts of the Emirates Polio Campaign and other partners helping the government of Pakistan,” Alzaabi said.
Special Assistant to the PM on National Health Services, Dr. Zafar Mirza, said the UAE was a long standing donor to Pakistan in its fight against polio.
“Ambassador of the UAE met me earlier this week to discuss our upcoming national campaign on polio immunization which we are starting on December 16 with the collaboration of the UAE,” Dr. Mirza said.
“We have discussed preparations of this upcoming campaign and he [the UAE envoy] wanted to know what different approaches we are adopting this time, so we had a very good exchange of views on this. He has shown satisfaction on the changes we have made for this campaign and assured complete cooperation and help,” the minister said.
The Emirates Polio Campaign targets 16 million Pakistani children every month, according to a report published by the program: “It is implemented in various regions of Pakistan with the support of 106,000 workers, including doctors and nurses, and more than 25,000 members of security to protect polio workers.”