2022-2026 strategy to end polio needs $4.8 billion
Global leaders October 18, 2022, committed to donating $2.54 billion for eradicating polio at the World Health Summit. World Health Summit is an international health conference being held in Berlin, Germany, from October 16-18, 2022. The amount will equal about Rs 19 crore.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.2 billion to the largest international public health initiative, Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Humanitarian organization Rotary International pledged $150 million, the United States pledged 114 million, Germany over $70 million and France over $49 million.
The GPEI is led by national governments with six core partners - Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
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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, GPEI said in a press note.
The initiative needed $4.8 billion to implement its 2022-2026 strategy fully. If fully funded, the strategy can save up to $33.1 billion in health cost savings this century compared to the price of controlling outbreaks.
It would also be able to deliver additional health services and immunizations alongside polio vaccines to underserved communities, GPEI said.
In addition to the funding, a declaration endorsing the 2022-2026 strategy was also released by a group of more than 3,000 influential scientists, physicians, and public health experts from around the world. It called on n donors to stay committed to eradication and ensure GPEI is fully funded.
The group points to new tactics contained in the programme’s strategy, like the continued roll-out of the novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2), that make them confident in GPEI’s ability to end polio.
Five hundred million doses of nOPV2 have already been administered across 23 countries and field data continued to show its promise as a tool to more sustainably stop outbreaks of type 2 circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV).
Wild poliovirus is endemic in just two countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, after just six cases were recorded in 2021, 29 cases have been recorded so far this year, including a small number of new detections in southeast Africa linked to a strain originating in Pakistan.
Additionally, outbreaks of cVDPV, variants of the poliovirus that can emerge in places where not enough people have been immunized, continue to spread across parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, with new outbreaks detected in the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom in recent months.
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“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,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.
“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,” said Svenja Schulze, federal minister for economic cooperation and development, Germany.
Pakistan has made incredible progress against polio, but recent challenges have allowed the virus to persist, said Zulfi Bhutta, chair of Child Global Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Canada, and distinguished university professor at Aga Khan University, Pakistan.
“Polio, like any virus, knows no borders; its continued transmission threatens children everywhere. With strong financial and political commitments, our long-awaited vision of a polio-free world can become a reality,” Bhutta added.
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