ISLAMABAD: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has immunised more than 20 million Pakistani children against polio with nearly 87 million vaccines administered as part of the Emirates Polio Campaign till May this year.
The campaign was launched under the directives of UAE President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on an initiative by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Gulf News reported on Tuesday.
Speaking at Shaikh Mohammad’s Ramazan Majlis in Abu Dhabi, Abdullah Khalifa Al Gafli, head of the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE-PAP), said that 86.6 million polio vaccine doses were administered to more than 20.6 million children aged under five.
“Polio cases in Pakistan have declined to 71 per cent from 82 in the corresponding period last year to 24 cases this year,” he said.
Al Gafli added that the polio campaign under the slogan ‘A Healthy and Bright Future for All’ is reaching children in areas that were previously inaccessible to vaccinators. The campaign is also working with community leaders to improve confidence in the vaccination programme, he said.
The UAE-PAP programme used 123,487 teams, 3,205 doctors, 12,765 supervisors and 21,116 security men, using health-care centres and mobile units for remote villages, refugee camps and border areas, covering 49 per cent of Pakistan’s area and achieving 98.7 per cent success.
Al Gafli added that the UAE has also implemented 163 development projects at a cost of $340 million.
Dr Elias Durry, emergency coordinator for polio eradication at the World Health Organisation, thanked the UAE for its continued support.
“We have never been closer to wiping polio off the face of the Earth,” he said. “Africa has seen strong progress. With no wild polio-virus cases reported since August 2014, the continent is on the cusp of becoming polio-free.”
Durry called on governments of polio-affected countries to redouble their efforts to reach children, especially in insecure areas, with the polio vaccine and the international community to follow through on its financial and political commitments.
A portion of a documentary titled ‘Every Last Child’, directed by the award-winning documentary film director Tom Roberts was screened at the Majlis. Roberts congratulated the UAE for its “remarkable” efforts in Pakistan to eradicate polio.
“The film reflects the huge effort the people are making to eradicate polio. It is the story of the sweat and tears of the people fighting all resistance to make the vaccination campaign successful,” Roberts said.
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