ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Regional Reference for Polio has been upgraded with assistance from Japan through a grant worth US$3.3 million.
The support will boost Pakistan’s capacity to swiftly track and respond to the poliovirus. PRR Laboratory for polio currently tests more than 30,000 stool samples and 950 environmental samples for polio a year from Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the global effort to end virus circulation in both polio endemic nations.
The assistance from the Government of Japan has helped procure essential molecular-biology equipment for the laboratory; including genetic analysers, real time thermal cylinders, incubators and freezers. The grant has also been used to replace aging stocks of cold chain materials, reagents and other essential equipment.
“This lab is now one of the largest and best surveillance networks in the world for polio.A well-functioning laboratory is critical for ensuring successful surveillance in place to detect and respond to outbreaks,” shared Dr. Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan.
Representatives from the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) ceremoniously handed over this equipment during a ceremony at the National Institute for Health (NIH).
“This prestigious and high tech lab supports the largest surveillance network for polio which enabling country programmes to generate required response efficiently,” shared Dr. Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan. Speaking at the ceremony, the Secretary of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, Dr. Allah Bakhash Malik said, “The support of the Government of Japan has been vital to Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio. Recent enhancements to the Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL) will furtherup-build our capacity to effectively tackle the associated risks in timely manner”
The Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Matsuda Kuninori,added, “the Government of Japan remains committed to assisting the Government of Pakistan in its goal of eradicating polio,”referring to its assistance of USD 229 million in total provided to Pakistan for polio eradication since 1996.