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UAE to help eradicate polio from Pakistan by 2022: UAE Envoy
The Government of the United Arab Emirates is determined to help Pakistan eradicate polio by 2022 through its Emirates Polio Campaign, a top Emirati diplomat said.
Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi, the UAE Ambassador to Pakistan, made this statement on Friday as the Pakistani Prime Minister was preparing to lau a new vaccination campaign.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. As of 29th October, 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 Prime Minister Imran Khan will start field operations across the country from 16th December. The UAE is a partner in the campaign.
The polio eradication programme is implemented through the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme, UAEPAP.
“The UAE has played a major role in eradicating polio by actively contributing to the financing and support of critical vaccination campaigns,” ambassador Al Zaabi told Arab News in an interview on Friday.
He said around 419 million drops of polio vaccines had been administered in Pakistan from 2014 until September 2019.
The UAEPAP programme started in 2010, covering sectors such as education, infrastructure, safe drinking water, healthcare and polio eradication.
“From 2014 to 2019, the number of cases reduced significantly due to the efforts of the Emirates Polio Campaign and other partners helping the government of Pakistan,” Al Zaabi said.
Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, 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 immunisation, which we are starting on 16th December 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 official said.
The Emirates Polio Campaign targets 16 million Pakistani children every month, according to a report published by the programme. “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,” he said.