Japan has announced that the Government of Pakistan (GoP) does not need to pay back the loan of 4.9 billion Japanese yen (US$51 million) which financed polio vaccination campaigns from September 2011 to October 2013. As per an agreement announced in 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will repay the loan to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on behalf of GoP, said a press release on Monday. When the loan was decided in 2011, Japan, GoP and the Gates Foundation agreed to an innovative financing approach. It was agreed that the Gates Foundation would repay the loan to JICA on behalf of GoP, if GoP met certain performance criteria which showed that vaccination campaigns were implemented successfully.
After the assessment of GoP’s performance, it is now formally decided that the Gates Foundation will repay the debt.
Japan’s ODA loan provided the country with funds for oral polio vaccine, immunisation workers, and vaccination activities across the country and along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.
Japan worked with partners such as the World Bank for co-financing the project as well as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for vaccine procurement and the World Health Organization (WHO) for service delivery in the polio campaign.
Takashi Katae, chargŠ d’affaires of Japan to Pakistan, praised GoP for showing satisfactory performance, and appreciated the Gates Foundation for its continued commitment for partnership with Japan and Pakistan.
He stressed that Pakistan and international development partners should not weaken their effort for polio eradication for future generations, despite the existing complex challenges in Pakistan.
JICA chief representative Kawasaki commented that the fund contributed to Pakistan not only for expanding service delivery but also for making polio programme further accountable and result oriented.
Japan has been a long standing donor to polio eradication and has funded anti-polio initiatives and broader immunisation activities in Pakistan since 1996.
Total Japanese assistance for polio eradication activities in Pakistan so far amounts to approximately $ 145.65 million, which consists of the aforementioned soft loan of US$ 51 million and US$ 94.65 million of grant.