World Bank to Help Immunize 34.8 Million Children in Pakistan Against Polio
The World Bank’s Board of Directors today approved a US$24 million second additional financing for the Third Partnership for Polio Eradication Project (TPPEP) to support the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to immunize 34.8 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 three countries, Pakistan among them.
“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 cases are worrying,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “Pakistan still has a large role to play to aggressively stop transmission of polio virus to help achieve the global public good of polio eradication in the world”.
The recent floods also 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 population in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the 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 Tayyeb Masud, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank “Overcoming security related barriers has become critical since a majority 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 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, and Rotary International through the UN Foundation.
The credits are from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. These carry a 0.75% service charge, and 1.25 percent interest rate, 5 years of grace period and a maturity of 25 years.