The Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Announce Partnership on Polio Eradication in Pakistan

Karachi: Ms. Sadako Ogata, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Mr. Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, today announced a strategic partnership to ensure continued progress in the fight against polio. As the first step in this formal partnership, Ms. Ogata and Mr. Gates also announced an innovative financing agreement to support the polio campaign in Pakistan.

The announcement represents a significant contribution towards the goal of eradication of polio in Pakistan. Based on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI) current cost estimates, this 4.9 billion JPY (approximately $65 million) ODA Loan[i] to the government of Pakistan will help ensure that polio eradication activities in Pakistan are financed through 2013.

“This partnership comes at a critical time for Pakistan and will help us achieve our shared goal of a polio-free world,” said Gates. “Japan’s remarkable commitment will benefit generations of children in Pakistan and throughout the world.”

Although polio has been successfully reduced by 99 percent worldwide over the past 20 years, Pakistan is one of four countries where polio transmission has never been stopped. A recent report by GPEI’s Independent Monitoring Board commended Pakistan’s heightened commitment to polio vaccination, yet with polio cases in Pakistan on the rise, the report warned that the country “risks becoming the last global outpost of this vicious disease, jeopardizing the global effort.”

At the launch of the National Emergency Action Plan 2011 for Polio Eradication in January, Gates commended the Pakistani government’s expressed commitment to eliminate polio and pledged to work closely with officials there to ensure success. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani are leading the national effort and working closely with the WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International to ensure Pakistan meets the milestones set out in the National Emergency Plan 2011 for Polio Eradication.

Japan’s ODA loan will provide the country with funds for oral polio vaccine, immunization workers, and vaccination activities across the country and along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. It will also involve working in partnership with stakeholders such as the World Bank for co-financing as well as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for vaccine procurement and the World Health Organization (WHO) for service delivery of the polio campaign.

Japan has been a long-standing donor to polio eradication and has funded initiatives and broader immunization in Pakistan since 1996. “We are delighted that JICA’s strong relationships with partner countries and valuable experience implementing a wide range of critical projects enable us to play a proactive role in harnessing innovation to benefit global aid delivery through collaborations with emerging private donors,” said Ms. Ogata. “We believe that JICA’s new Strategic Partnership with the Gates Foundation reflects JICA’s interest in playing a leading and catalyzing role in development issues.”

For more information, contact:
Mr. Muhammad Zubair
Administrative Officer (Public Relations),
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) – Pakistan
Office, 4th Level, Serena Business Complex,
Ramna 5, Khayaban-e-Suharwardi, G-5/1,
Islamabad, Pakistan.
Tel: +92-51-9244500-07
Fax: +92-51-9244508

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