British aid will help to vaccinate up to 360 million children against polio over the next 6 years, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today, ahead of the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Polio is a debilitating and life threatening disease that has been successfully eradicated across the globe, saving millions of lives. It now remains prevalent in just 3 countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. UK support will help provide routine immunisations against polio to some of the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups of people.
Justine Greening said:
Britain will not stand on the sidelines while easily-preventable diseases like polio are still a risk to thousands of people around the world.
Our generation has a genuine opportunity to make the devastating disease of polio a thing of the past, just as has happened with smallpox. This week’s Vaccine Summit represents a historic opportunity to give these efforts one final push.
We now call on all other donors to join us because the healthier a population, the better able it is to contribute to and benefit from economic development.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said:
We have a unique opportunity to create a polio-free world. The UK’s impressive leadership on international development and its commitment to protecting children will help achieve this ambitious goal. It will also bring us closer to the day when all children receive the vaccines they need.
Mr. Gates also announced his foundation would make a 6 year commitment to support implementation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI) plan to achieve a polio-free world by 2018.
Britain is a global leader in polio vaccinations and has already helped vaccinate 200 million children since 2009. However, many millions of vaccinations are still needed to prevent children from being infected.
The UK believes it is essential that polio prevention is included within wider health programmes and routine immunisation. By supporting countries’ health systems and routine immunisation across a range of preventable di