Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

UAE vaccinates 57 million Pakistan children against polio

Campaign delivered some 254.4 million doses over four years

A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child. AFP / ARIF ALI
A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child. AFP / ARIF ALI

The UAE has helped vaccinate more than 57 million Pakistani children against polio in the four years to 2018, official figures have shown.

The UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme aims to support efforts to eradicate the disease worldwide.

It was launched under the directive of President Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Between 2014 and 2017, the campaign administered 254.4 million doses of vaccines to 43 million children in Pakistan.

Coverage was recently extended to include a further 83 areas in four provinces of Pakistan, helping reach an extra 13 million children in the following 12 months.

More than 96,000 workers, including medical staff, management and security teams, were involved in administering the campaign.

Millions of children have been saved from death and crippling disabilities thanks to global efforts to eradicate polio in the last 30 years.

Despite the success of health initiatives, the disease remains a deadly danger in Pakistan, as well as in Afghanistan and Nigeria, the only three countries on the planet still be to free of polio.

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The global campaign to eradicate polio was launched in 1988, with international support. The UAE was declared polio free in 1992.

The disease is easily prevented by a simple vaccine first developed in 1955 and has been almost entirely eradicated in the West for more than half a century. Australia was declared polio free in 1972 and the UK by 1982.

For a country to be declared polio free there must be no new case for two years.

The UAE's fight against polio has also included collaborations with philanthropist and business magnate, Bill Gates.

Only in October it was revealed that Abu Dhabi could one day be home to a global research institute set up to tackle polio and other infectious diseases and backed by Bill Gates.

The UAE has been a partner of the foundation’s mission to eradicate polio across the world since 2011, when Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, started working with Bill and Melinda Gates on the issue.

Updated: January 6, 2019 06:57 PM

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