Joint release by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, UNICEF, Rotary Internatonal and the US Centers for Disease Control annouces new pledges to gloabl polio eradication efforts.
Pledges announced will enable over a billion children to be vaccinated
• Global eradication program will move simultaneously on multiple fronts expanding focus to improve childhood immunization and protect gains made to date
• New commitments by governments and philanthropists boost effort to meet plan’s budget goal
Philanthropists endorse value of investing in the end of polio
In remarks made at the Summit, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, underscored the numerous benefits of ending polio and the need to provide health and development interventions to the hardest-to-reach children. He also called on additional donors to come forward with long-term commitments to fully fund the GPEI plan.
“This plan isn’t just a polio eradication plan, it’s a global immunization plan with the goal of ending polio while improving efforts to protect all children, including the most vulnerable, with life-saving vaccines,” said Gates. “Successful implementation of the plan requires a significant but time-limited investment that will deliver a polio-free world and pay dividends for future generations.”
Gates announced that his foundation would commit one-third of the total cost of the GPEI’s budget over the plan’s six-year implementation, for a total of $1.8 billion. The funds will be allocated with the goal of enabling the GPEI to operate effectively against all of the plan's objectives. To encourage other donors to commit the remaining funding up front, the Gates funding for 2016-2018 will be released when the GPEI secures funding that ensures the foundation’s contribution does not exceed one-third of the total budget for those years.
Joining Gates was a new group of individual philanthropists that announced its support for full implementation of the new plan. The total new pledges from philanthropists to the polio initiative amounted to an additional US$335 million toward the plan’s six-year budget. The donors commended the tremendous progress toward eradication made in the last year and expressed their desire to help change history and end polio while the opportunity still exists. Philanthropies making commitments include:
- Albert L. Ueltschi Foundation
- Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation-Global
- Bloomberg Philanthropies
- Carlos Slim Foundation
- Dalio Foundation
- The Foundation for a Greater Opportunity established by Carl C. Icahn
- The Tahir Foundation
A fully funded plan and sustained political commitment will protect gains made to date and enable the GPEI to execute against short- and long-term objectives
At the Summit, leaders from polio-endemic countries reaffirmed their continued focus on polio eradication and welcomed the plan’s broadened scope to improve immunization systems.
Praising the plan’s expanded focus to ensure that polio eradication efforts – which reach the world’s most vulnerable children – support broader health interventions, long-time donors Canada, Germany, Norway and the UK, as well as Nigeria, announced new commitments to support the plan’s long-term objectives. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, announced a second pledge to polio eradication of US$120 million, adding to his first contribution made in 2011. A range of other donors, including the Islamic Development Bank, Ireland and Japan, helped round out the additional pledges.
Rotary International, the flagship donor to the GPEI, pledged its commitment through 2018 to raise funds and mobilize support of the endgame strategy. “To stop polio once and for all, we need to act quickly so that children are fully protected and countries are not re-infected,” said Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka. “This takes the commitment of national and local leaders where polio still exists, the continued support of donor countries, and the steadfast commitment of heroic vaccinators.”
The GPEI will work with donors on the timely conversion of these pledges into commitments and the disbursement of funds so that the program can fully deliver on the plan.
The plan’s US$5.5 billion budget over six years requires sustaining current yearly spending to eradicate polio. The new plan’s budget includes the costs of reaching and vaccinating more than 250 million children multiple times every year, monitoring and surveillance in more than 70 countries, and securing the infrastructure that can benefit other health and development programs.
“Today we have the fewest cases in the fewest places ever, making it critical to use the best opportunity the world has ever had to put an end to this terrible, preventable disease,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., head of the Center for Global Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Notes for editors
The plan was created by the GPEI in extensive consultation with national health authorities, global health initiatives, scientific experts, donors and other stakeholders. There are four main objectives of the plan: 1) Poliovirus Detection and Interruption; 2) Immunization Systems Strengthening and Oral Polio Vaccine Withdrawal; 3) Containment and Certification; and 4) Legacy Planning.
Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus: On very rare occasions, the live, weakened poliovirus contained in the oral polio vaccine may genetically alter in the immunized person’s gut. If a population is seriously under-immunized, the virus may begin circulating in the community, and is referred to as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV). Between 2000 and 2011 – a period in which more than 10 billion doses of oral polio vaccine were given worldwide – cVDPV outbreaks resulted in 580 polio cases. In the same period, wild poliovirus paralyzed more than 15,500 children. As wild poliovirus declines, however, the proportion of cVDPV in low-immunity communities rises. The new plan uses cutting-edge knowledge about these viruses and new tactics to raise immunity, including introduction of inactivated polio vaccine and phasing out use of the component of the oral polio vaccine which gives rise to the majority of cVDPV. If a population is fully immunized against polio, it will be protected against the spread of both wild and vaccine strains of poliovirus.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), launched in 1988, is spearheaded by national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since its launch, the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 percent. In 1988, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed each year in more than 125 endemic countries. Today, only three countries remain endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Last year, cases of wild poliovirus plunged from 650 in 2011 to 223, the largest drop in a decade. As of 17 April, 19 cases have been reported, a 60% reduction compared to this time last year.
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