Pakistan makes ‘significant progress’ towards polio elimination by 2026; Munir Akram


A senior Pakistani diplomat has told UNICEF’s Executive Board that Pakistan has made “significant progress” towards complete eradication of polio, despite challenges. “We remain committed to the complete eradication of polio within the set timeline for its elimination by 2026,” Ambassador Munir Akram said during the Board’s special session on Polio eradication.

The Executive Board reviews UNICEF activities and approves its policies, country programmes and budgets. It comprises 36 members, representing the five regional groups of member states at the United Nations. Its work is coordinated by the Bureau, comprising the President and four Vice-Presidents, each officer representing one of the five regional groups. In his remarks, the Pakistani envoy pointed out that the unprecedented 2022 floods in Pakistan had adversely affected its polio vaccination drives. Despite that, he added, due to the concerted efforts by the government and our global partners, only 6 cases of polio were detected last year This year, Ambassador Akram said the Pakistani government has set a target to immunize 45 million children, and the caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, had already kick-started this campaign. The Pakistani envoy said dedicated efforts will be made to achieve that target. To do so, he said, Pakistan will require technical and financial cooperation from all its relevant global partners, adding that $ 205 million was required for polio programmes in 2024, but noted there was a shortfall of $95 million. Ambassador Akram urged all donors and partners to contribute generously to the polio eradication efforts and ensure that children were vaccinated. “We have entered the final stages in the fight against polio,” he told delegates. “Urgent and bold actions are needed to eradicate polio by 2026. After smallpox, polio can be the second disease to be eradicated.” Opening the discussion., UNICEF’s Executive Director, Catherine Russel, declared that Polio eradication in the world was “finally within reach.” ” Today,” they said, “the wild poliovirus is confined to a few districts in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, marking the most significant progress against the disease since the inception of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988. “We have come this far thanks to the heroic efforts of community health workers reaching children with vaccines … government leadership … and the invaluable support of partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International.”