ISLAMABAD: The UAE has provided more than 116 million units of polio vaccine for Pakistani children aged under five from January 2014 to the end of May 2016 through the Emirates Polio Campaign, launched under the directives from President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and as part of an initiative of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, to eradicate the disease.
The UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE-PAP), which runs the anti-polio drive in Pakistan, said the campaign benefited children in 66 areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the first five months of this year.
The effort is part of the UAE government’s 2013 pledge of Dh440 million for supporting global efforts to put the world over the finish line for polio eradication by 2018, with a focus on Pakistan, which has one of world’s highest rates of polio infection.
In 2011, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced they were working together to provide life-saving vaccinations to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The partnership has committed a total of $100 million — $50 million from each partner — for the purchase and delivery of vital vaccines that will save Afghan and Pakistani children and prevent the disease for a lifetime.
In 2014 alone, 13,283,701 units of vaccine were administered to Pakistani children. In the period from January to May 2016, additional 29,594,862 units were delivered to the four provinces, Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, director of the UAE-PAP, said.
The UAE-PAP polio campaign harnessed its teams, health care centres and mobile units to deliver vaccines to remote villages, refugee camps and border areas.
The project’s administration said the campaign is being carried out on schedule and is accompanied by an educational campaign to promote awareness of the highly infectious and dangerous disease that attacks the nervous system, and can cause paralysis or death.
Al Ghafli noted that the campaign’s success proves that the humanitarian efforts and initiatives of the UAE are remarkably effective and that the UAE is playing a leading role in assisting the poor and underprivileged across the world and supporting the UN’s efforts to protect people against diseases and disasters, providing a dignified living for all.