World Bank to Help Immunize 32 million Children in Pakistan Against Polio
The World Bank’s Board of Directors Thursday approved a US$41 million additional financing for the Third Partnership for Polio Eradication Project (TPPEP) to support the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to immunize 32 million children against the crippling effects of polio with the goal of eradicating the disease from the country.
In 1988 when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched, 125 countries reported an estimated 350,000 cases of polio each year. With the implementation of the strategies recommended by the initiative, cases of Polio transmission had dropped by 99% by 2006 and are now limited to only four countries, Pakistan among them. Due to the large scale floods of 2010 that affected over 20 million people and areas of conflict where access to health services has been limited, there has been a resurgence in the number of polio cases in Pakistan.
“Although Pakistan has seen great progress in the reduction of polio over the last 20 years, it remains one of the few countries where polio still impacts lives and recent increases in the number of cases are worrying,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “With this most recent support, we are assisting the implementation of the emergency plan to eradicate the disease entirely so no one will ever have to live with its devastating effects”.
Prior to the start of the monsoon floods at the end of July in 2010, a total of 27 polio cases had been reported. However, this number rose to 144 by year-end, compared to 89 confirmed cases in 2009.
The floods forced large scale population movements resulting in large population groups living together in temporary housing with inadequate water and sanitation facilities. This, in turn, has led to exposure of people who had not been previously exposed to the polio virus. In addition, the prevailing security situation affecting the populations in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has seriously affected immunization coverage, with an estimated 90% of children under 5 years no longer receiving adequate immunization.
“Pakistan can eradicate polio from its territory. In order to achieve this, the country needs to ensure that every child under 5 years is vaccinated at each vaccination round,” said Kumari Vinodhani Navaratne, Project Team Leader. “Overcoming security related barriers has become critical since 75% of the confirmed polio cases are from KP and FATA.”
The project is the third in a series since 2003 that provide financial resources to the Government of Pakistan to procure the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) as part of the global campaign. It is also a part of a global effort to eradicate polio and is being supported through an innovative partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and Rotary International (RI) through the UN Foundation (UNF). With the achievement of the agreed results the IDA credit gets paid by these partners on behalf of the Government of Pakistan.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. The credit carries a 0.75% service charge, 10 years of grace period and a maturity of 35 years