Project implementation period
From March 2011 to March 2014
Poliomyelitis, commonly known as polio, is still found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. These three countries face difficulties in conducting polio vaccination programs due to political and social reasons, such as violent conflicts and poverty. The situation is also exacerbated by the international community’s lack of interest in polio, as well as a reduction in funding for such programs. These issues are currently stifling the progress of vaccination programs in the countries that need them most.
Japan’s ODA activities do not interfere with the internal politics of recipient countries. Thus, Japan’s ODA program is highly regarded by developing countries, including those where polio is still common. In order to strengthen efforts in polio eradication, the JIGH sought the cooperation of the Japanese government and reached an agreement to loan JPY 5 billion to the Pakistan government. We also planned and implemented a strategy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pay back the loan on behalf of the Pakistan government upon successful implementation of the polio vaccination program in Pakistan.
Policy implementation & Other events
- Proposal of a strategy to clarify issues and solve problems in polio eradication, presented to the cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and other related departments.
- Coordination of the initiatives of international organizations such as the WHO and UNICEF and of private organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rotary Club
- Advocacy of global health through efforts to encourage the involvement of the Japanese government
- Establishment of the Diet Task Force for Polio Eradication
- Visits to Pakistan by participating ministers of the Diet Task Force for Polio Eradication
- Participation in high-level meetings on polio eradication in the Asia Pacific region;
- [Organizers] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)
- [Partner] Japan Institute for Global Health (JIGH), Pacific Health Summit (USA)
- [Support] Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, ExxonMobil Japan
- Organizing events relating to polio eradication
- Public forum involving Mr. Yamane, the then vice minister of Foreign Affairs, and Japanese comedian Atsushi Tamura (London Boots Ichi-go Ni-go).
- Charity reception “Polio Summit” and charity auctions
- Courtesy visit to Mr. Bill Gates by participating ministers of the Diet Task Force for Polio Eradication
- Organizing regular hearing for the Diet Task Force on Global Polio Eradication with guest speakers from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, USAID, Daiwa Securities Co. Ltd. etc.）
- Organizing a global polio eradication exhibition at the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V)
In August 2011, the Japanese government agreed to a ‘loan conversion’ contract of JPY 5 billion with the Pakistani government in support of polio eradication. This was Japan’s first time to implement the innovative method of loan conversion, in which the loan is to be paid back by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, instead of the Pakistani government, upon successful implementation of the polio vaccination program in Pakistan. Prior to this agreement, use of a loan conversion contract by the Japanese government as an incentive to bring in money from a private foundation had never before been undertaken.
The JIGH now acts to strengthen efforts to eradicate polio in Nigeria, one of three countries with a high incidence of polio.
In Nigeria, there is no health system in place to collect accurate information about the transmission of the polio virus, and there is an insufficient number of medical personnel to carry out vaccination. In addition, the reach of vaccination programs is limited in some parts of Nigeria due to public distrust of vaccination. It is important to increase support for polio eradication in Nigeria in order for us to maintain the momentum of efforts made by the international community so far.
Since the introduction of the polio vaccine, the number of polio-endemic countries has decreased from 125 in 1988 to 3 in 2012. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio eradication is still needed. However, these three countries not only face financial problems, but are also confronted by the devastating effects of internal conflict. Under such circumstances, it is almost impossible for international vaccination programs to reach children. So what needs to be done to ensure children receive the polio vaccination? As a peaceful and friendly nation with a reputation as a highly trusted country, Japan can make a difference by using its influence to persuade the different parties involved to end conflict. Now is the time when Japan should take leadership and play a principal role in eradicating the remaining cases of polio from the world.