Anti-polio drive: A worthy UAE feat in Pakistan - GulfToday

Anti-polio drive: A worthy UAE feat in Pakistan


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It is truly a praiseworthy record on the part of the UAE government, helped of course by the Pakistani authorities. The UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme, UAE PAP, has vaccinated 12,144,323 Pakistani children under five years old against polio from 17th to 26th August. The aim is to vaccinate 12,788,000 children as part of the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for Global Polio Eradication. The drive has achieved 95 per cent success despite the hurdles and challenges posed by the virus pandemic.

This initiative is part of the UAE’s humanitarian approach in cooperation with international organisations and institutions to provide humane and health assistance to needy and poor communities and people. It also seeks to back global efforts to eradicate polio and reduce its incidence by a large percentage in the countries targeted by the initiative, namely Pakistan and Afghanistan. The number of cases recorded this year in Pakistan has reached 68, especially in areas where children are deemed the most threatened and vulnerable to infection with the virus.

For the doctors and others involved, traversing the difficult and high-risk areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Area, Balochistan region, Punjab region, and Sindh region was no easy task. More than 82,000 members consisting of doctors, observers and members of vaccination teams, and more than 20,000 protection and security personnel and management and coordination teams took part.

This campaign was carried out with modern methods and with high preventive standards, including training courses to qualify the teams to perform the task in light of field challenges and risks related to their protection and safety, and to ensure the safety of children targeted by vaccination from being infected by the coronavirus.  Preventive measures were directed at parents regarding sterilising their hands before vaccinating their children, and distributing free masks. The anti-polio campaign resumed in July after a four-month suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The UAE vaccination campaign began in 2014 and until August 2020 managed to administer 468,443,542 doses of vaccination against polio to more than 86 million Pakistani children.

The disruption of the campaign had raised fears of a rise in polio cases as Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only countries in the world where the polio virus was still endemic.

The Emirates Polio Campaign successfully vaccinated 722,500 children in Pakistan between 20th-26th July this year.  Abdullah Khalifa Al-Ghafli, Director of the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme, highlighted that the initiative reflects the UAE leadership’s commitment to strengthen global cooperation to prevent the spread of epidemics and protect children and support global polio eradication efforts.

There were also a number of restrictions on vaccination teams, which worked in small groups of two. Health workers over 50 years of age and those with chronic diseases could not take part. Measures also included implementing social distancing, especially with regard to direct contact with children during vaccination, and protecting vaccines from contamination from other parties. As part of the preventive measures taken, parents were involved directly in the vaccination process and were instructed to sanitise their hands before vaccinating their children and to wear masks, which were distributed for free.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates is determined to help Pakistan eradicate polio by 2022 through its Emirates Polio Campaign.

The UAE has played a major role in eradicating polio by actively contributing to the financing and support of critical vaccination campaigns.

The UAEPAP programme has covered sectors such as education, infrastructure, safe drinking water, healthcare and polio eradication.

Whether it is Pakistan, Yemen, or faraway countries in the Caribbean, the UAE is going all-out to extend a helping hand to help those in need. The anti-polio drive is just one facet of its all-encompassing bid to end suffering in various parts of the globe.


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