UAE administers over 28mn polio vaccine doses in Pakistan amid COVID-19 outbreak

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ABU DHABI — To mark World Polio Day, the Emirates Polio Campaign (EPC) on Friday announced that it administered over 28 million vaccine doses in Pakistan between July and September 2020, reaching over 16 million children.

The announcement comes on the heels of the EPC’s recent announcement that it had completed the world’s first polio vaccination campaign since the outbreak of COVID-19 this spring.

Launched in 2014, the EPC is part of the UAE Pakistan assistance program, which was launched at the directives of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to provide help and humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan and support their development initiatives for a better future.

The campaign works in cooperation with the command of the Pakistani Armed Forces, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the Pakistani Ministry of National Health Services, and Ministries of Health offices in the provincial governments.

Since launching, the campaign has delivered more than 483 million polio vaccines, reaching 86 million children across Pakistan.

Abdullah Khalifa Al-Ghafli, director of the UAE Pakistan assistance program stated: "The Emirates Polio Campaign reflects Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s commitment to strengthen global cooperation to prevent the spread of polio and to protect children from this preventable disease. Since its founding, the EPC has accomplished a tremendous amount in reaching millions of children with this critical vaccination. We know there is still work ahead in our goal of ensuring every child has a chance at a healthy future and we remain committed to the last mile in eradicating this disease."

Earlier this year, vaccination programs around the world were halted due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 and many leaders in the health community warned of a potential new polio crisis. However, The EPC overcame these new challenges and was the first programme in the world to resume polio vaccinations.

Since resuming vaccination campaigns in July, the EPC has also taken a strong role in protecting and educating the communities they serve about COVID-19.

During July and August, frontline health workers distributed hundreds of thousands of masks and sanitizers to homes as well as health facilities. In addition, through the frontline health worker network, the EPC distributed digital materials on COVID-19 prevention, using WhatsApp and social media platforms.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has committed more than $250 million to eradicate the disease, and in 2019 hosted the Global Polio Eradication Initiative pledging moment at the Reaching the Last Forum which raised more than $2.8 billion.

Sponsored by the Rotary Club, World Polio Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the urgent need to eradicate polio. This year, the 8th annual World Polio Day is marked on Oct. 24. — WAM


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