islamabad - Canada has announced a contribution of 40 million Canadian dollars to support the eradication of polio in Pakistan over the next three years.

The contribution from the government of Canada will strengthen communities’ support for polio eradication, awareness raising and the recruitment and training of community-based vaccinators’ project, implemented by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), while the World Health Organisation (WHO) will strengthen supplementary immunisation operations, campaign and post campaign monitoring, surveillance and monitoring effort to detect and track the polio virus.

“Only by joining our efforts and by combining our resources, we can win the fight against the poliovirus,” said Heather Cruden, High Commissioner of Canada to Pakistan. Because the poliovirus can spread across national borders, it has the potential to affect any of us, regardless of our ethnicity, culture or religion. Thus, we are all in this fight together, she added. Acknowledging the commitment by Canada at a ceremony at the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination, Minister Saira Afzal Tara said, “When we defeat polio, it will motivate us to aim for other great health and development milestones for the children of Pakistan.”

The government of Canada has long been a generous supporter of Pakistan and the support and leadership extended will go a long way to helping us ensuring that the children of Pakistan will be free of this crippling disease, she said.

Pakistan is making significant progress in the fight against polio, this according to international oversight bodies such as the Independent Monitoring Board for Polio Eradication, the Pakistan Polio Technical Advisory Group and the World Health Assembly. Last year, Pakistan achieved 82 per cent reduction in the number of children affected by polio, down to 54 cases compared to 306 in 2014.

“Pakistan is the closest it’s ever been to eradication. This renewed support to WHO will strengthen supplementary immunisation activities and acute flaccid paralysis surveillance, which is a compass to measure the progress on this global work in Pakistan. As Pakistan moves closer to eradication a robust surveillance system will be critical to the effort. We are extremely grateful to the Canadian Government for the commitment it continues to make to polio eradication in Pakistan.” said Dr. Lamia Mahmoud acting WHO Representative in Pakistan.

“We have already significantly increased the number of vaccinators and empowered them for those children most at risk, and there has been real progress in reducing the number of new infections. And this investment will ensure future generations in Pakistan will no longer have their lives blighted by this crippling disease and Canada has contributed significantly to living up to this commitment.“ said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Pakistan.