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Italy donates $5mn to vaccinate children in Afghanistan, Pakistan

Italy has donated 4.5 million euros ($5 million) towards efforts to vaccinate every child under the age of five in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has announced.

Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only two countries that reported polio cases this year.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has matched Italy’s contribution, doubling its impact to 9 million euros ($10 million), said the initiative, a public-private partnership led by national governments.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano underlined the country’s commitment to a polio-free world.

“Italy is proud to support this immunization initiative which will not only rid the world of this devastating disease but improve children’s health and bring health returns and productivity gains for communities and countries’ economies,” he said.

Alfano held a meeting on Tuesday with Melinda Gates, co-president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, at the foreign ministry in Rome.