Germany provides additional €5 million to polio eradication in Pakistan

Germany provides additional €5 million to polio eradication in Pakistan

Islamabad : Funding will be used to vaccinate children during door to door polio immunization campaigns and for high risk populations who cross Pakistan’s bordersThe Government of Germany has pledged an additional €5 million to Pakistan to support polio eradication efforts in the country. The contribution, which will be received by the World Health Organization (WHO), will enable the polio programme to accelerate its outbreak response activities.Speaking on behalf of polio eradication partners, the WHO Representative in Pakistan, Dr Palitha Mahipala, thanked Germany for their generous contribution. While most of the funding will be used to vaccinate children during door to door polio immunization campaigns, part of it will be used to offer vaccines to high risk populations who cross Pakistan’s borders via 123 transit points which have polio workers. Over 26.1 million children have been vaccinated in 2019 and within the first three months of 2020 through vaccination at such transit points “Intensifying our efforts towards this shared goal of polio eradication has never been so important. This year, we have faced challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic, but it has not deterred us. Rather, it has strengthened our resolve, and with this important support, we will continue to make up on the ground that was lost”, said Dr Mahipala. Polio vaccination resumed under strict COVID-19 prevention measures in July in Pakistan after a four-month pause triggered by the global pandemic. Although necessary to protect both health workers and communities from COVID-19, the temporary pause in house-to-house campaigns, coupled with pandemic-related disruptions to routine immunization and other essential health services, resulted in expanding transmission of polioviruses in Pakistan. Dr Rana Safdar, Director General Health and National Coordinator of the Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for polio eradication acknowledged the contribution as an important boost to ongoing activities to address the expanding poliovirus transmission. “This will enable the polio programme to ramp-up activities in several key areas, with a revitalized resolve to end polio in Pakistan.”Dr Safdar also commended Germany for their steadfast political support and historical contributions to the effort towards a polio-free world, noting that he hoped the children of Pakistan may one day know the true impact of their partnership. Germany regularly speaks about polio eradication as a public health achievement in high-level forums, using these opportunities to raise awareness of continuing efforts to end the disease.The German Government, through the KfW Development Bank, has provided longstanding financial support to polio eradication efforts in Pakistan, with grants to fill in critical funding gaps for priority eradication activities including polio campaign operations. Germany is the third largest country donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and the total contribution of the German people since 1985 amounts to US$ 691 million.