US$ 2.6 Billion to Eradicate Polio
By Joyce Ojanji
World leaders have committed US$ 2.6 billion to fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) program 2022-2026 Strategy to end polio.
The pledges were made during the World Health Summit in Berlin at an event co-hosted by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The funding will support global efforts to overcome the final hurdles to polio eradication, vaccinate 370 million children annually over the next five years and continue disease surveillance across 50 countries.
Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for BMZ, Germany noted, “No place is safe until polio has been eradicated everywhere. As long as the virus still exists somewhere in the world, it can spread – including in our own country. We now have a realistic chance to eradicate polio completely, and we want to jointly seize that chance.”
Asserting their commitment, she added, “Germany will remain a strong and committed partner in the global fight against polio. This year, it is providing EUR 35 million for this cause. And next year we plan to further strengthen our efforts and support GPEI with EUR 37 million – pending parliamentary approval. By supporting the GPEI, we are also strengthening national health systems. That leads to healthier societies, far beyond the polio response.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General said “The new detections of polio this year in previously polio-free countries are a stark reminder that if we do not deliver our goal of ending polio everywhere, it may resurge globally.
“We are grateful for donors’ new and continued support for eradication, but there is further work to do to fully fund the 2022-2026 Strategy. We must remember the significant challenges we have overcome to get this far against polio, stay the course and finish the job once and for all.”
The pledging moment in Berlin marked the first major opportunity to pledge support towards the US$ 4.8 billion needed to fully implement the 2022-2026 Strategy.If the Strategy is fully funded and eradication achieved, it is estimated that it would result in US$ 33.1 billion in health cost savings in this century compared to the price of controlling outbreaks.
The leaders further promised continued support for GPEI to enable it to deliver additional health services and immunizations alongside polio vaccines to underserved communities.
Catherine Russell, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director said, “Children deserve to live in a polio-free world, but as we have seen this year with painful clarity, until we reach every community and vaccinate every child, the threat of polio will persist.”
Expressing her gratitude for the donations, she noted, “when we invest in immunization and health systems, we are investing in a safer, healthier future for everyone, everywhere.”
Additionally, a group of more than 3 000 influential scientists, physicians, and public health experts from around the world released a declaration endorsing the 2022-2026 Strategy and calling on donors to stay committed to eradication and ensure GPEI is fully funded.