Pakistan

UK boosts polio fight in Pakistan

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Every child in Pakistan should be protected from polio, said Mike Foster today as he announced a =A37.5 million funding boost to help eliminate the disease in Pakistan.

This funding will be provided to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support immunization days after fears that the disease has spread, putting thousands of children at risk. Despite an impressive reduction in polio cases from 5,000 in 1993 to 81 this year, there has been a sharp increase in cases near the Afghanistan border.

Mike Foster said:

"In a time of global economic instability, it is often those who have least who are affected most. It is very important that we keep our promises to the world's poor and continue to build on the significant progress made.

"Every child in Pakistan has a right to be protected from this terrible disease, and we are proud to be at the forefront of Pakistan's quest to fight polio. Evidence shows that the contribution from UK taxpayers is continuing to have real impact, but there is much still to be done.

"It is no coincidence that the increased cases of polio are occurring near the border with Afghanistan where it is increasingly difficult to provide aid and access to basic healthcare. These new funds show the UK's ongoing commitment to the people of Pakistan, and beating this disease."

UK support will increase the ability of Pakistan's Ministry of Health to treat 20,000 cases and will give health workers and women a greater role to play in tackling polio.

Notes to editors

1. The UK government has already provided =A320.2 million ($40 million) to the WHO over the last four years. This has been significant in running National Immunisation Days and setting up disease warning surveillance. Globally, the UK has also contributed US $726 million since 1988 to tackle polio.

2. Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, the number of reported cases worldwide has decreased by over 99%.

3. DFID has just launched its new Country Plan for its work in Pakistan over the next five years in which our priorities are: giving people access to better health and education; making government more effective; ensuring growth works for everyone and ensuring the international community works better together.

4. In November 2006, the UK and Pakistan signed a 10-year Development Partnership Arrangement and the UK announced a doubling of aid to Pakistan to =A3480 million for the period 2008-2011.

For further information on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative please visit www.polioeradication.org. For further information or to speak to the Minister please contact Sarah Thoms, s-thoms@dfid.gov.uk, on +44 207 023 0849. Further information on all of DFID's work in Pakistan and across the developing world can be obtained via our website, www.dfid.gov.uk.