Islamic Development Bank’s Funding Support Bolsters Pakistan’s Efforts to End Poliovirus for Good 

Islamic Development Bank announces a new US$100 million loan approved in 2023 to help ensure a polio-free Pakistan

DUBAI, UAE, 3 December 2023 – The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), together with the Government of Pakistan, announced a US$100 million loan to support Pakistan’s polio eradication efforts, today, at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum held on the sidelines of the ongoing COP28 events in Dubai, UAE.

This loan builds on a previous support from the IsDB and includes a US$35 million principal buy-down from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The new funding complements previous loans and will be used to secure and deliver the millions of polio vaccines needed to protect all children across Pakistan against this debilitating yet preventable virus.

“I am very pleased to announce that the IsDB approved US$100 million financing in the 4th Phase of Polio Eradication Program for Pakistan in April 2023, which brings the IsDB total financing for Polio eradication in Pakistan to US$ 587 million, making the Bank one of the largest providers of finance to the national polio eradication program in Pakistan. Under this latest phase, I am happy to note that US$ 60 million of this amount was disbursed in mid-November 2023. We and our partners remain committed and are working hard to win this battle against this disease. We really are at the last mile in this long journey as only 5 cases of wild poliovirus have been reported in the country in 2023,” IsDB President and Group Chairman, H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, reiterated in his statement read out by IsDB Vice President Finance, Dr. Zamir Iqbal, at the Forum. “I would like to thank the Government of Pakistan, as well as our partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF and WHO for their steadfast commitment,” added the statement.

Today, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries where wild poliovirus remains endemic.

“We welcome the support of the IsDB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in contributing to the critical effort of ending polio in Pakistan,” said H.E. Dr. Nadeem Jan, Minister of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination. “Interrupting poliovirus transmission remains a core focus for the Government of Pakistan, and thanks to the heroic efforts of community health workers, global partners and contributors like the IsDB and the foundation, we have pushed the virus to the brink of eradication,” the Minister added.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sees this loan as an important step forward for eradication efforts in Pakistan. “We are pleased to partner again with the IsDB and the Government of Pakistan to ensure funding opportunities to provide the needed resources to reach every child with polio vaccines. I remain inspired by the strong commitment from leaders across Pakistan to ending polio at both the provincial and national levels,” said Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Chair of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Polio Oversight Board. “With continued support to health workers and the efforts from partners like the IsDB, I am confident we will end polio in Pakistan,” he reiterated.

On the occasion, WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated: “WHO remains committed to working with our partners to support Pakistan’s effort to end polio for good.” He added: “These funds will allow Pakistan to raise immunization coverage, improve its ability to find and respond to this virus, and make polio history for children in Pakistan and around the world.”

This loan will enable the Pakistan polio program to reach all children and communities with this life-saving vaccine to ensure no one suffers from this debilitating disease in the future. It will also help meet the country’s commitment of US$155 million towards its national polio program supported by the partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

As one of the two implementing partners of the GPEI in Pakistan, UNICEF will support the government to procure and deliver vaccines to children, protect communities from polio and reach families with other essential health services. “We are at a critical moment in Pakistan, and we cannot ease up the fight against polio until every child is protected,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi said, adding: “UNICEF is committed to ending polio in Pakistan because we know it is possible. We have seen polio disappear from country after country across the globe. Today there are only two countries where it persists. Together, we can reach every child with polio vaccines, especially those who have not been vaccinated before, and we can end wild poliovirus transmission in Pakistan for good.”

Originally published by the Islamic Development Bank on 3 December 2023


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