Islamabad:(Rana Tariq)U.S. government representatives and Government of Pakistan health officials visited a vaccination center in Islamabad to launch a nationwide campaign to vaccinate children with the first batch of 8 million Pfizer COVID-19 pediatric vaccine doses donated by the United States. Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has committed to donate more than 78 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the people of Pakistan, and thus far more than 70 million of these doses have arrived in-country. The United States is the largest donor of COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan.
The U.S. government, through USAID, is supporting the Government of Pakistan’s COVID-19 pediatric vaccination campaign for 5- to 11-year-old children. U.S. Ambassador Donald Blome joined the Federal Health Minister, Mr. Abdul Qadir Patel, to kick off the life-saving campaign on Monday at the Mass Vaccination Center in Islamabad. The campaign is taking place in the capital and selected districts of Sindh and Punjab provinces. Executive Director of NIH Major General Dr. Aamer Ikram, Director of General Health Services Dr. Shabana Salem, and other senior Pakistani government officials also attended the event.
Addressing health officials at the inauguration campaign, Ambassador Blome remarked, “Today, we celebrate the next step in protecting all Pakistanis against this devastating disease by launching the pediatric vaccination campaign. Our recent collaboration to protect the children of Pakistan demonstrates the importance of our longstanding partnership to work together and overcome the global challenge.”
The Federal Health Minister, Mr. Abdul Qadir Patel, praised the commitment of both countries to combat COVID-19 in Pakistan and said, “Protecting our communities from COVID-19 is a shared priority of both of our governments, and these vaccines will keep millions of children safe from the most devastating impacts of the pandemic.” He expressed gratitude for the U.S. government’s support to improve health services in Pakistan and noted that it reflects the strong bilateral relations between the two countries.
In addition to the vaccines, the U.S. government has also provided over $80 million in direct and in-kind support to assist the Pakistani people in the fight against COVID-19.
This support has included more than 1.2 million N95 masks, 96,000 surgical masks, 52,000 protective goggles, one million COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests, 1,200 pulse oximeters, and 200 ventilators for 64 Pakistani hospitals – all of which has helped save lives and protect people across Pakistan. The U.S. government also trained over 50,000 health workers, including 30,000 women, across Pakistan on home-based care for COVID-19 patients and established a national network of disease surveillance and response units and teams – providing an infrastructure to combat the current pandemic and building resiliency for the future. In July, the United States also provided four mobile testing labs to Pakistan’s National Institute of Health to strengthen Pakistan’s ability to diagnose diseases in remote, underserved areas.