The French Development Agency has promised to provide 55 million dollars in order to aid the efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan.
During a visit to the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication in Islamabad, a delegation from the French Development Agency and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced their commitment to providing support.
Pakistan is one of the few countries where polio remains endemic, meaning that the virus is still present and actively spreading within the population. The country has made significant progress in recent years towards eradicating the disease, but there have been setbacks due to vaccine hesitancy, militant attacks on health workers, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, there were 91 reported cases of polio in Pakistan, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Efforts are ongoing to vaccinate children and improve health infrastructure in order to eliminate the disease completely from the country.
The French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement) is a public financial institution that aims to promote sustainable development and economic growth in developing and emerging countries. It provides financing and technical assistance for various projects related to education, health, climate change, infrastructure, and more.
The agency is funded by the French government and operates in over 100 countries. Its mission is to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development by supporting public policies and private sector initiatives.
Agnès Soucat, who serves as the Director of Health and Social Protection, led the delegation from the French Development Agency, while the Gates Foundation’s delegation was headed by Jay Wegner, the Global Head for Polio Eradication.
The members of the delegation praised Pakistan for its advancements in the eradication of polio and promised their assistance to ensure that the country stays on track to stop the spread of wild poliovirus this year, as outlined in the worldwide eradication plan.