The UAE has boosted Pakistan's fight against polio by funding the Polio Eradication Initiative with Dh84 million ($23m), the World Health Organisation said on Saturday.
The country has also donated about Dh1.4m for personal protective equipment to shield frontline workers against Covid-19 in 84 high-risk areas.
An announcement from the WHO on its Eastern Mediterranean website said the donation would help it reach 16 million children in Pakistan at risk of contracting polio.
Since 2014, the UAE has contributed more than $200m to the eradication of polio in Pakistan.
“The United Arab Emirates has firmly stood by the polio programme, with vital yearly contributions and responding to pleas for extra funding to address unforeseen challenges such as Covid-19,” said Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO representative in Pakistan.
“This would not be possible without their support.”
In the first six months of this year, Pakistan recorded only one case of wild polio. In the same time in 2020, 59 cases were reported.
To be certified a polio-free nation, Pakistan must report zero affected children over a period of three years.
In 2020, the UAE's Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE-PAP) ensured that close to 16 million children under 5 years received protection through repeated polio campaigns and all frontline workers in 84 districts received personal protective equipment and training to help fight the pandemic.
UAE-PAP is a humanitarian initiative started by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to eradicate polio globally.
“The efforts and sacrifices of the field vaccination teams, who face difficult field conditions and dangerous challenges, greatly contribute to the success of the campaigns and reducing the spread of poliovirus in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” said Abdulla Khalifa Alghfeli, director of UAE-PAP.
Mr Alghfeli explained that Sheikh Mohamed's humanitarian initiative to eradicate polio is a major factor contributing to the elimination of the disease in its last reservoir in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Dr Shahzad Baig, national co-ordinator of Pakistan's National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, said the UAE contribution was an important boost to ensure the programme could control the virus through door-to-door polio campaigns.
“We are getting closer to our goal, but this is not the time to be complacent,” he said.
“We are re-doubling our efforts to ensure the gains of the past don’t slip away.”