The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has pledged $23 million to support anti-polio programmes in Pakistan through December of this year, as the South Asian country continues to fight the devastating disease.
“It will allow the polio programme to maintain momentum in delivering effective monthly polio campaigns targeting 16 million children in Pakistan’s highest-risk districts,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Saturday on behalf of the Polio Eradication Initiative.
The UAE’s latest donation comes on top of the $200 million it has given to Pakistan since 2014, with WHO Representative in Pakistan Dr. Palitha Mahipala thanking the UAE’s leadership for their “generous contribution.”
In June, Pakistan restarted anti-polio vaccinations, months after the campaign was put on hold owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, which had overwhelmed the country’s health system, and threats to the campaign.
Unidentified shooters on a motorcycle shot and murdered two police officers assigned to protect anti-polio workers in the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on June 10, two days after Pakistan launched a statewide anti-polio campaign.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the incident, extremists frequently target polio teams, accusing them of being part of a Western plot to sterilise children.
The Polio Eradication Program (PEP) said in a statement on Saturday that
In the first six months of the year, Pakistan had reported “just one wild polio case.”
It went on to say, “This is a significant decline, over 98 percent, as compared to 59 instances at the same period previous year.”
Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was lauded by Abdulla Khalifa Alghfeli, Director of the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Program, for his “humanitarian approach and generous assistance” for the anti-polio cause.