Polio vaccination being administered to a child in a neighbourhood hosting Afghan refugees and internally displaced tribal people in Pakistan. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Upon the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and with 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 monitoring of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to offer humanitarian and development aid to Pakistan, support its health sector and launch prevention programmes, the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE PAP) has announced that 508,092,472 doses of polio vaccine were administered to more than 86 million children in Pakistan over seven years, under the UAE Polio Vaccination Campaign carried out in Pakistan from 2014 to the end of 2020.

The programme highlighted the fact that the campaign was implemented due to an initiative of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to eradicate polio around the world, in line with the UAE’s humanitarian approach and cooperation with international organisations, through drafting social development programmes, curbing the spread of pandemics and diseases, providing humanitarian and health aid to poor and needy communities and supporting global polio eradication initiatives.
Since 2011, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has donated $247.8 million (Dh911.4 million) to humanitarian and charity efforts aimed at providing vaccines and financing polio eradication campaigns — most notably in countries targeted by his initiative, which are Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In his statement on this occasion, Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, Director of UAE PAP, said that the campaign’s success in providing more than 500 million vaccine doses over seven years reflects the excellence and efficiency of the UAE’s humanitarian efforts and initiatives, upon the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, with the support Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, and the monitoring of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed.

It was also revealed that even during the challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the campaign managed to reach out to 16 million children and provided more than 52,515,000 doses since July 2020.

Geographical coverage

The campaign’s geographical coverage comprised 94 difficult to reach high-risk areas in Pakistan, and its scope included 34 areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where local children received 267,254,084 doses of the vaccine, as well as 33 areas of Balochistan Province where children received 78,690,114 doses of the vaccine, 24 areas of Sindh Province where children received 148,568,085 doses and three areas in Punjab Province where children received 13,580,189 doses.

The programme noted that the efforts to launch vaccination campaigns in various Pakistani provinces witnessed the participation of more than 103,000 doctors, observers and members of the vaccination teams, as well as more than 82,000 security personnel and coordination teams. The mobile teams have also managed to reach out to 22 camps of Afghan refugees at the international border checkpoints where more than 597,000 Afghan children were vaccinated.

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Protecting communities

Al Ghafli added that the campaign’s success underscored the UAE’s leading role in reinforcing the efforts of the international community and the programmes of the United Nations (UN) agencies that aim to protect communities from diseases, pandemics, crises and disasters.
He stressed that the polio eradication initiative of Sheikh Mohamed also helped create positive global humanitarian alliances and strategic partnerships between governments and UN agencies, including the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and global charity organisations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.