The UAE Polio Vaccination Campaign carried out in Pakistan from 2014 to the end of 2020. File
The UAE is reputed for its humanitarian approach to issues, which reflects intrinsic Arab spirit. Its role in combating polio particularly in Pakistan, is simply stellar, in short. And the person who is spearheading the drive to combat polio in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries is none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
And the results are simply astounding. The UAE Polio Vaccination Campaign carried out in Pakistan from 2014 to the end of 2020 provided 508,092,472 doses of the polio vaccine to over 86 million children in Pakistan over seven years.
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.
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,
What is very commendable is that the UAE conducted this drive amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the health workers were not concerned about the grave health risks their job entailed. They simply went and did their job, and that meant reaching out to those living in remote, inaccessible areas, which is remarkable.
Since 2011, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed donated $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.
During the challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the campaign managed to reach out to some 16 million children and provided over 52,515,000 doses since July 2020.
Mobile teams also have managed to reach out to 22 camps of Afghan refugees on the international border checkpoints where over 597,000 Afghan children were vaccinated.
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.
Last year, 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 was 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 achieved 95 per cent success despite the hurdles and challenges posed by the virus pandemic.
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.
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 account for 59 per cent of Pakistan’s total landmass, serving over 16 million Pakistani children.
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 combating rumours, changing misconceptions and disseminating accurate facts, and encouraging the community to vaccinate their children.