UAE vaccinates 722,000 Pakistani children against polio in one week

The immunisation programme is believed to be the first of its kind to be carried out since the Covid-19 outbreak

A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination campaign in Islamabad in December, 2018. AFP    
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More than 720,000 children in Pakistan received polio vaccinations during a week-long initiative spearheaded by the UAE in July.

The extensive Emirates Polio campaign is believed to have been the first of its kind carried out since the Covid-19 outbreak.

The humanitarian mission was part of a global effort to eradicate polio being led by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Abdullah Khalifa Al-Ghafli, director of the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme, said the wide-ranging operation highlighted the commitment of the UAE leadership to eliminate the debilitating disease.

Mr Al-Ghafli said 722,500 children were successfully vaccinated between July 20 and 26.

"This campaign is the first of its kind in the world to vaccinate children against polio since the spread of Covid-19, after a break of nearly four months in vaccination efforts," he said.

The programme targeted areas in Pakistan where there had been spikes in polio cases and directed support to those most vulnerable to infection.

The campaign was carried out in line with Covid-19 safety measures, with more than 3,400 vaccination team members and security personnel undergoing training on potential risks.

They were also equipped with protective equipment, including uniforms, masks, gloves, and sterilisation materials.

This effort was complimented by an awareness campaign across all forms of media to encourage parents to be proactive in vaccinating their children.

The Emirates Polio Campaign will launch a 10-day vaccination programme on August 17, with the aim of reaching more than 15 million children living in 85 regions of Pakistan.

Since its launch in 2014, the UAE's vaccination project has immunised more than 86 million Pakistani children.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has committed US$327.8 million  (Dh1.2 billion) to supporting efforts to elimate polo worldwide, with a particular focus on high-risk areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan.