Canada is contributing $40 million over three years toward two initiatives by UNICEF and by the World Health Organization (WHO).

CANADA on Monday announced new programming to help stop the transmission of polio in Pakistan.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, made the announcement following her first meeting with Tariq Azim Khan, High Commissioner of Pakistan in Canada.

The Building Community Support for Polio Eradication project, implemented by UNICEF, will increase community acceptance of polio vaccination team workers through local language media campaigns, the delivery of health information packages, and the recruitment and training of community-based vaccinators.

The WHO’s Improving Surveillance to End Polio Transmission project will improve the detection and tracking of polio, as well as improve the monitoring of all polio eradication efforts.

Bibeau said: “The Canadian government is committed to eradicating polio in Pakistan. Getting rid of polio in Pakistan would be a major step toward its eradication worldwide. Pakistan is one of the few countries where new cases of polio are found, and we have the resources and the will to change this.”

Dr. Michel Thieren, WHO Representative in Pakistan, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Canadian government for the commitment they continue to make to polio eradication in Pakistan. Pakistan now has an extraordinary opportunity to take the world over the finish line for polio eradication. This renewed contribution to the WHO will primarily support acute flaccid paralysis surveillance, which is a compass to measure the progress on this global work in Pakistan. It is thus an essential pillar of polio eradication. As the country moves closer to eradication a robust surveillance system will be critical to the effort.”

Angela Kearney, Representative of UNICEF in Pakistan, said: “The unwavering support and confidence evidenced by the government and the people of Canada in Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts has been extremely encouraging and reassuring in the country’s longdrawn fight against the crippling disease. Last year, Pakistan overcame huge challenges to bring about a remarkable reduction in the number of children paralyzed by polio, mainly due to the resilient leadership and commitment of the Government of Pakistan, the relentless efforts of the thousands of frontline workers and the strong partnership.”

Quick facts

* The persistence of the polio virus in Pakistan is the largest barrier to eradicating polio forever. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries where new cases of polio are found, and Pakistan accounts for the vast majority of all cases.

* Canada is a leading supporter of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and supports the fight against polio in several critical areas, including sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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