$59 Million Supports Polio Eradication's Last-Mile in Pakistan
World leaders recently announced new commitments that help implement the Paris Pact principles, combining official development assistance and private investment, and support the objective of achieving polio eradication by 2026.
Confirmed by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Remy Rioux, CEO of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) on December 8, 2023, a €55 million concessional loan, with a €20 million principal buy-down from the Gates Foundation will support Pakistan's national health institutions and the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative to recover following impacts from the devastating floods in August 2022.
By supporting the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, through the World Health Organization (WHO), in immunization activities, disease surveillance, polio campaign monitoring, and other technical areas, the AFD investment will enhance systems able to target climate-sensitive diseases and their risk sources.
Notably, this funding will also support female polio healthcare workers, whose efforts and experiences are central to Pakistan's success against polio and other diseases.
Since 1994, Pakistan has been fighting to end the crippling poliovirus in the country.
In 2023, Pakistan has reported 5 cases of paralysis from polio. Poliovirus has also been detected in sewage water in 20 districts in the four major provinces, reaffirming that polio continues to pose a threat to children living in poor sanitary conditions with low immunity and poor nutrition.
"Thank you to the Government of France and the Government of Pakistan for their continued leadership in the fight to end polio," commented Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a press release.
"From France's commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative last year to today's new financing partnership between the French Development Agency and the Government of Pakistan, these additional resources are essential to ensuring no child suffers from this devastating disease again."
Pakistan's national vaccination initiative is driven by trained and dedicated polio workers, the most extensive surveillance network in the world, quality data collection and analysis, behavioral change communication, state-of-the-art laboratories, and some of the best epidemiologists and public health experts in Pakistan and the world.
Globally, polio outbreaks continue in 2023.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated Global Polio Alert on September 11, 2023, regarding polio outbreaks and poliovirus detections in 31 countries.
Previously, the WHO confirmed on August 25, 2023, that the spread of the poliovirus remained a Public Health Emergency of International Concern for three additional months.
As of December 2023, various polio vaccines are available in most countries. In the U.S., the IPV vaccine has been offered since 2000.