Donors pledge $2.6 billion for 'last mile' of polio eradication

Grant Boone
November 21, 2019

The special assistant also briefed Bill Gates about the polio vaccination program and ongoing anti-polio drive in the country.

The fundraiser came on the back of last month's WHO announcement that the second of three types of poliovirus had been successfully eradicated around the world.

He appreciated the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who pledged on Tuesday US$160 million for global polio eradication efforts.

"From supporting one of the world's largest health workforces, to reaching every last child with vaccines, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is not only moving us closer to a polio-free world, it's also building essential health infrastructure to address a range of other health needs", said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and Chair of the Polio Oversight Board.

He said that the government has prepared a coordinated and comprehensive plan to make Pakistan polio free.

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Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation for the United Arab Emirates, which hosted the event, said the Gulf nation was working hard injecting Pakistan children so that "together we can consign polio to the pages of history". The other strain was certified as wiped out in 2015.

When the GPEI launched in 1988, polio paralyzed over 350,000 children across 125 countries every year. In every 200 cases, one infection will lead to irreversible paralysis.

World Health Organization said the $2.6 billion pledge will fund the GPEI's "endgame strategy" through 2023, almost $700,000 short of what is needed to fully implement the initiative. Because of this historic effort against polio, an estimated 18 million people are walking today who otherwise would have been paralyzed by polio and 1.5 million lives saved. Majority of the cases have been recorded in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Special Assistant said world institutions will provide 2.6 billion dollars including 1.08 billion dollars by Bill Gates Foundation for polio eradication in the country. Other pledges included Abu Dhabi's crown prince Mohamed bin Zayed ($160 million) and the United States government ($216 million).

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