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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 January 26 - February 1  > JPC Koike talks with UNICEF official regarding Japan’s support for polio eradication efforts
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2022 January 26 - February 1 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JPC Koike talks with UNICEF official regarding Japan’s support for polio eradication efforts

January 29, 2022

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on January 26 in the House of Councilors members’ office building held talks with UNICEF Senior Advisor Yamaguchi Ikuko, who is in charge of UNICEF’s fund-raising efforts for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and promised to urge the Japanese government to increase its support for the program.

Koike serves as a vice chair of the cross-party parliamentarians’ organization, the Diet Task Force on Global Polio Eradication.

The GPEI was launched 30 years ago as a public-private entity led by national governments and six partners, including UNICEF and WHO. In 2022, the GPEI began implementing its final strategy for the eradication of polio.

In the talks with JCP Koike, Yamaguchi pointed out that given that in 2021, only five new cases of the wild-type poliovirus were confirmed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is a possibility for rooting out the poliovirus completely following the smallpox eradication. She stressed, “In order to achieve this, the Japanese government’s assistance is vital.”

Reporting that Afghan’s Taliban interim government authorized the GPEI to work in the nation, Yamaguchi pointed out that if a system for administering polio vaccines is established locally, it will be utilized in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic there as well. Furthermore, she explained the GPEI’s polio vaccine rollout program will be conducted on a house-to-house basis, and said that as Afghan mothers cannot talk with men other than their family members under Islamic precepts, the participation of female health workers in the home-visit vaccination program is essential, which will lead to the promotion of gender equality in Afghanistan.

In response, Koike recalled his visit to Pakistan in 2001 and said that he was shocked with the fact that at that time, many children were affected by polio because they were unable to get vaccinated in the aftermath of U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan. He said, “The eradication of polio is a significant challenge in the history of humanity. I’ll work hard to push the Japanese government to play a role in achieving this goal.”

The Japanese government two years ago slashed its contributions to the GPEI by nearly 60% from the previous level. On top of this, only Japan, among major capitalist countries, failed to support the implementation of a routine polio vaccination program in Afghanistan.

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