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Pakistan Receives Grants To Fight TB, Infant, Maternal Mortality, Health Minister Says

Pakistan has obtained international support for its efforts to fight tuberculosis and lower infant and maternal mortality rates, Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani, the health minister, said recently after returning from the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA), the International News reports.

Britain’s Department for International Development will release 45 million pounds, almost $74 million, over the next three years in order to help Pakistan reduce “alarmingly high infant and maternal mortality rates,” according to the International News. In addition, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will provide grants worth $27 million, while the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization will give $120 million to support Pakistan’s TB control efforts and immunization programs.

Jakhrani said that health ministers at the WHA called on the world community to provide sustained assistance and technical support to Pakistan “at a time when it has competing development and security requirements,” according to the International News. Health ministers also made a special appeal to international donors to cater the immediate needs of internally displaced people (IDP) in Pakistan (Maqbool, International News, 5/30).

IDP Situation Could Exacerbate Polio

In related news, Dawn.com examines the health effects of dealing with the more than three million IDPs. “If immediate action is not taken, Pakistan would be plagued with a polio epidemic,” Dawn.com reports. The country has reported 12 cases of polio this year and the number is expected to rise “as Swatis fleeing the military operation in their valley spill across the country,” according to Dawn.com.

Global Polio Eradication Initiative health workers have established themselves at nine transit points and as of mid-May, had immunized 17,850 children with the trivalent oral polio vaccine. In addition, mobile health teams have gone tent-to-tent in 26 IDP camps and immunized almost 7,000 children last month.

Vaccination campaigns have been held in other parts of the country, but according to Dawn.com, “have not been comprehensive.” For example, in April 2009, 217,000 children did not receive polio vaccines in Karachi. The latest confirmed case of polio occurred in one of the most populous districts in the country (Yusuf, Dawn.com, 6/1).