ABU DHABI, (Pakistan Point News - 20th Feb, 2021) Upon the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the monitoring of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to offer humanitarian and development aid to Pakistan, support its health sector and launch-related prevention programmes, the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE PAP) announced the annual results of the UAE Polio Vaccination Campaign carried out in Pakistan from 2014 to the end of 2020.
The programme highlighted the fact that the campaign was implemented due to an initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to eradicate polio around the world, in line with the UAE’s humanitarian approach and cooperation with international organisations, through drafting social development programmes, curbing the spread of pandemics and diseases, providing humanitarian and health aid to poor and needy communities and people, and supporting global polio eradication initiatives.
Since 2011, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed donated US$247.8 million to humanitarian and charity efforts aimed at providing vaccines and financing polio eradication campaigns, most notably in countries targeted by his initiative, which are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The programme then pointed out that over seven years from 2014 to the end of 2020, the campaign in Pakistan has succeeded in reaching out to over 86 million children and provided 508,092,472 doses of the polio vaccine. Under the framework of the campaign’s efforts to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting challenges, it reached out to some 16 million children and provided over 52,515,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine since July 2020.
The campaign’s geographical coverage comprised 94 difficult to reach high-risk areas in Pakistan, and its scope included 34 areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where local children received 267,254,084 doses of the vaccine, as well as 33 areas of Balochistan Province where children received 78,690,114 doses of the vaccine, 24 areas of Sindh Province where children received 148,568,085 doses and three areas in Punjab Province where children received 13,580,189 doses.
The programme noted that the efforts to launch vaccination campaigns in various Pakistani provinces witnessed the participation of over 103,000 doctors, observers and members of vaccination teams, as well as over 82,000 security personnel and coordination teams.
In his statement on this occasion, Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, Director of UAE PAP, said that the campaign’s success in providing over 500 million vaccine doses over seven years reflects the excellence and efficiency of the UAE’s humanitarian efforts and initiatives, upon the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, with the support of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, and the monitoring of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, adding that it succeeded in achieving their noble objectives to improve human health and protect people from diseases and pandemics.
He added that the campaign’s success underscores the UAE’s leading role in reinforcing the efforts of the international community and the programmes of the United Nations (UN) agencies that aim to protect communities from diseases, pandemics, crises and disasters, stressing that the directives of the leadership to improve children’s preventive healthcare are a pioneering model of protecting children’s health.
Al Ghafli then pointed out that the humanitarian vision of Sheikh Mohamed and his generous donations have supported the international efforts and are key factors in eradicating polio around the world, adding that his initiative to eradicate the disease is a leading international health and humanitarian project that has proven effective in difficult to reach areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Al Ghafli stressed that the polio eradication initiative of Sheikh Mohamed also helped create positive global humanitarian alliances and strategic partnerships between governments and UN agencies, including the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and global charity organisations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
He then commended the efforts and sacrifices of vaccination teams comprising doctors, nurses and security personnel who faced dire field conditions and challenges, which contributed to the programme’s success, affirming that the campaign covers 94 areas every month, which accounts for 59 percent of Pakistan’s total landmass, serving over 16 million Pakistani children.
Children in these areas are in constant need of vaccines throughout the year, due to malnutrition and weak immunity, as well as an environment that acts as an incubator of the disease, which makes the job of the programme’s teams even harder, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, he further added.
Al Ghafli then explained that despite the obstacles, challenges and practical hurdles, the campaign is continuing to implement the approach and vision of the country’s leadership to contribute to polio eradication and protect the world’s children from its risks. He added that the campaign has conducted field monitoring operations and intensified its campaigns in high-risk areas, to curb the spread of the disease both locally and globally.
He pointed out that the official website of the WHO for the Eastern Mediterranean noted that the number of global polio infections decreased in 2020 to 140 cases, including 84 in Pakistan and 56 in Afghanistan, which is a positive indicator of the full eradication of the disease.
Information about poliomyelitis can be found on the WHO website: https://www.who.int/ar/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/poliomyelitis The types of support provided by the programme to vaccination campaigns include financing training programmes, management services, communication services, logistical support, and the transportation and storage of vaccines.
An annual social awareness campaign was also launched, under the theme, "Health for Everyone: A Better Future," to raise people’s awareness of the risks posed by poliomyelitis. The campaign directly reached out to all segments of the community, to create social partnerships aimed at combatting rumours, changing misconceptions and disseminating accurate facts, as well as encouraging the community to vaccinate their children.
UAE PAP was launched on 12th January 2011 upon the directions of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, with the intent to help Pakistan overcome the consequences of the destructive torrential rains by rehabilitating its infrastructure and provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan and support their development initiatives for a better future.
The project follows a comprehensive plan of rehabilitation that takes into account the rugged geographical topography and harsh weather conditions.
The plan has four main pivots to rehabilitate the area and secure community development: roads and bridges, education, health and safe drinking water supply schemes. It also provides for additional efforts to offer humanitarian assistance to the unprivileged, poor and homeless.
In the health sector, UAE PAP aims to build, maintain and rehabilitate hospitals, clinics and medical institutes to extend modern medical care to Pakistani families, alleviate their sufferings and protect them against diseases and epidemics.