13 June | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Global Fund approves $282m grant to fight tuberculosis, malaria programs in Pakistan

Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel says government ready to strengthen malaria and TB control programs to eliminate diseases from Pakistan

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) has approved a 282 million dollar grant for Tuberculosis and Malaria control program in Pakistan, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.

After approval from the technical review committee of the Global Fund, the grant was approved for Pakistan. Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel appreciated the teamwork of the Common Management Unit and officials of the Ministry of National Health Services.

With this grant, he said that the government would further strengthen the malaria and TB control programs with objective to eliminate the diseases from this South Asian country. He said that this was a great achievement as after 2003 this was for the first time that Pakistan’s request for grant was approved during the first window of Global Fund.

He thanked the Global Fund team for approving this grant for Pakistan. He also thanked the donors, including UNAIDS, WHO, UNICEF, and USAID for providing technical assistance to Pakistan to achieve this grant. He said that the government was making all-out efforts to protect citizens from various diseases by utilizing all available resources.

National Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Dr Shahzad Baig says he is optimistic in eradicating polio, as every child matters

On the other hand, National Emergency Operations Centre arranged a briefing to partners and donor countries and agencies on the current state of polio eradication efforts. Speaking to country representatives and global polio partners, Abdul Qadir Patel said that the children need more support at this time when end of polio seems possible.

“Polio is the only public health emergency of international concern and a priority at all levels of the government, from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Health Ministry and district administrations. This year, Pakistan aims to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission, as envisioned in the global eradication strategy,” he said.

In this crucial time, he said that the continued support of donors and partners was critical to sustain efforts and momentum. The meeting came a week after the Technical Advisory Group for Polio Eradication met in Qatar to assess the current epidemiology and guide program strategies in the coming months.

Representatives from donor countries reaffirmed their commitment and said it was because of years of support to global polio eradication efforts that 99% of the world was now polio-free. More efforts need to be made for Pakistan and Afghanistan to make the final push and eliminate the disease from the world.

All human cases reported from Pakistan since 2022, including the only one reported this year in March, have been from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while most of the country has remained polio-free for over two years. Coordinator for National Emergency Operations Centre Dr Shahzad Baig said this was huge progress and they were optimistic, but every child matters.

Speaking on the occasion, Global Director for Polio Eradication at WHO Aiden O’ Leary said the GPEI marked 35 years to eradication efforts in May. “Since 1988, more than 10 billion doses of the oral polio vaccine have been given to children worldwide. Now, we are left with a small number of children in only two countries, at most 250,000 – 300,000 of persistently missed children in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Despite challenges, “it is entirely feasible to reach them and finally interrupt wild poliovirus transmission in the two remaining countries,” he said.