PHOTO FILE: A child receives a free polio vaccine during a major vaccination program in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 14, 2019. REUTERS / Eloisa Lopez / File Photo
LONDON (Reuters) – governments promised donors and philanthropists $ 2.6 billion on Tuesday to help fund a polio eradication plan around the world, bringing decades to the fore by global health specialists now.
The funding – almost half of this as a single donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – will be used to immunize 450 million children against polio every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.
The WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said by trying to get “all last children” with serious viral disease vaccines, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is coming closer to life free from to achieve polio.
Last month, the WHO announced a “historic phase” in the fight for polio eradication, confirming that the second of the three types of polio virus was eradicated worldwide.
Global polio cases have been cut more than 99% since 1988, but the type 1 polio virus remains endemach in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where 102 people have been infected this year. This is a revival from an annual low annual figure of 22 cases in 2017.
The polio affects the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis inside hours. It cannot be cured, but it can be prevented by vaccination – and cases of severe national and regional immunization campaigns for infants and children have dramatically reduced in recent decades.
The commitment will part-fund the 201E-20 “endgame strategy” 201E-20. A total of $ 3.27 billion is required to fully implement the plan, the WHO said.
The donors made their pledges at a polio conference “Making the Last Mile” in Abu Dhabi. The funding includes $ 1.08 billion from the Gates Foundation, about $ 514 million from Britain, $ 215 million from the US, $ 160 million from Pakistan and $ 150 million from the charity Rotary International.
Reporting by Kate Kelland; Edited by Pravin Char
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