Over 407 million drops of polio vaccine have been delivered to more than 71 million Pakistani children as part of the Emirates Polio Campaign implemented in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan since 2014 till the end of April 2019, the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAEPAP) has announced.
The aid comes in line with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the follow-up of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to provide and deliver infrastructural and humanitarian development support to the health sector and to strengthen immunisation programmes in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The UAEPAP administration stated that the Emirates Polio Campaign is implemented within the Initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for Global Polio Eradication, which represents the directives of the wise leadership of the UAE to strengthen the international efforts to reduce the epidemics and prevent negative health consequences suffered by the vulnerable children. It is a testament to the UAE’s commitment to humanitarian drives to help the poor and underprivileged and its determination to provide humanitarian development programmes, with particular emphasis on human health, specially the children who need preventive healthcare in different countries of the world.
Since 2011, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has donated US$167 million to support global efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis, focusing particularly on Pakistan and Afghanistan.
His contributions are in co-operation with international organisations concerned with the provision of humanitarian and health services to needy communities and in support of global efforts to eradicate polio and significantly reduce its incidence, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Abdullah Khalifa Alghfeli, Director of UAE-PAP, announced the detailed results of the UAE vaccination campaign over the past years, pointing out that from 2014 till April 2019, the campaign provided 407 million 440 thousand and 930 doses of polio vaccine to more than 71 million Pakistani children under the age of five.
The Director UAEPAP noted that from the Phase-I which was in 2014 and till the Phase-V, which was in 2018, the Emirates Polio Campaign delivered 371 million 175 thousand and 240 doses of polio vaccine. With additional efforts and significant field developments along with cooperation and humanitarian partnerships with international organizations in the year 2019, the Emirates Polio Campaign in its first 4 months of Phase-VI has succeeded in delivering 36 million 265 thousand and 690 doses of polio vaccine. It delivered polio drops to 14 million children monthly. The programme includes the planning of topping up additional campaign rounds with the extended period from June till December 2019.
The director further added that the Emirates Polio Campaign geographically covers 83 districts classified as polio high-risk areas in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. 191 million 408 thousand and 90 polio drops were delivered to children of 25 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province; 37 million 989 thousand and 872 polio drops delivered to the children of 13 districts of Federally Administered Triable Areas; 61 million 10 thousand and 675 drops of polio vaccine delivered to the children of 33 districts of Baluchistan Province; and 117 million 32 thousand and 293 drops of polio vaccine to the children of 12 districts of Sindh Province.
The campaign is being implemented in various regions of Pakistan with the support of more than 97 thousand polio workers, including doctors and nurses, and more than 25,000 members of safety and security, management and co-ordination teams.
There are 2 approaches in delivering the vaccines and reaching out to children; the first is through fix polio teams residing in health centers; the second is through transit polo teams designated to cover villages and areas far from main vaccination and health centers. Moreover, polio transit points established in IDP camps, refugee camps, on roads and on crossing points between areas and main cities.
The support which the UAEPAP provides to the polio campaigns includes all the elements of the campaign starting from funding of training of polio workers, communications, and coordination all the way to the payment of the incentives to the field polio workers, to supervisors and to security teams. Moreover, the implementation of media campaign to educate the local communities has also continued as the communities have openheartedly welcomed the polio awareness campaign launched by the UAEPAP under the slogan of “Healthy and Better Future for All” aiming to educate the people about the danger of poliovirus, a crippling disease, encouraging them to pre-empt to vaccinate their children and protect them from contracting polio.
The polio campaigns carried out with the joint cooperation and coordination with the Pakistan Army, UNICEF, World Health Organisation, National Institute of Health Services of Pakistan, Ministries of Health of provincial governments and Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation. All the participating parties were keen to strengthen the performance of the efforts of the campaign by supporting the polio workers, security teams and planning and administering the vaccination delivery process to targeted children watching out the process of the implementation of the campaign closely through all the phases of the campaign.
Abdulla Khalifa Alghfeli praised the support provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the UAE’s campaign and its strategic partnership with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed’s initiative to eradicate poliomyelitis worldwide through funding half of the campaigns and providing assistance in a number of areas related to campaign field execution.
Abdulla Khalifa Alghfeli further noted that this success reflects to the world that the UAE’s humanitarian efforts under the directives of the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and with the close follow up by His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is very active and exceptional in achieving its noble humanitarian objective and in promoting human health development programmes along with protecting the human from diseases and epidemics. It also underscores the leading role of the UAE in helping poor and needy nations and supporting international efforts and United Nation’s efforts in protecting communities from diseases, epidemics, crises and disasters securing decent life for human.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Pakistani areas and provinces where the Emirates Polio Campaign is implemented are classified, by international organisations, to be very important for the global efforts to eradicate polio particularly because it holds most of the polio cases reported in the world in previous years. The huge success of that the Emirates Polio Campaign has achieved in these areas and provinces is reflected in the decrease of polio cases/victims in Pakistan, from 306 cases reported in 2014 to 54 cases in 2015 to 20 cases in 2016 to 8 cases in 2017 to 12 cases only in 2018, a reduction by 95%. These positive results are the key element in the achievement of the objectives of United Nations and countries of the world for the efforts towards the eradication of poliovirus in the near future.
The data in the official website of the World Health Organisation, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean shows that worldwide polio cases were reduced from 359 cases in 9 countries in 2014 to 33 cases in 2018, 12 cases in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and 21 cases in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The WHO acknowledges that the polio cases has reached its lowest in the history, and confined in a very little areas in the two countries, polio core reservoir, in the Eastern Mediterranean region and that is in Pakistan and Afghanistan.