Leaders, governments, NGOs, scientists and health experts from around the globe came together at the World Health Summit in Berlin to reaffirm the importance of efforts to eradicate polio.
The financial pledges made at the Summit, which total $2.6 billion, include a $150 million from Rotary International and $6.7 million from the United Kingdom.
The funding will go towards the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) 2022-2026 Strategy which will vaccinate 370 million children per year over the next five years in over 50 countries.
Rotary has also renewed our longstanding fundraising partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, meaning that Rotary’s $150 million pledge will be matched 2-to-1, and become $450 million to support the GPEI.
Eradicating polio requires the dedication and generosity of nations and individuals around the world, and Rotarians are again leading the way.”
“As the first organisation to envision a polio-free world, Rotary is more committed than ever to delivering on our promise that one day, no child will ever again be paralysed by polio,” said Rotary President Jennifer Jones. “Our partnership with the Gates Foundation helps us eliminate any impediment to conquer polio now.”
“Eradicating polio requires the dedication and generosity of nations and individuals around the world, and Rotarians are again leading the way,” said Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Rotary International and Rotarians continue to be the heart of GPEI – and have been since the beginning. Together, we are moving closer to our shared goal of ending polio and ensuring that families will never have to fear this disease again.”
The funding commitment marked the first major opportunity to pledge support towards the $4.8 billion needed to implement the 2022-2026 Strategy, which, if eradication is achieved, would result health cost savings of over $33 billion this century.
Alongside the huge funding commitment, the GPEI also announced a declaration endorsing the strategy, signed by more than 3,000 influential scientists, physicians and public health experts from around the world.
It has been a turbulent 12 months in the battle to eradicate polio. There has been armed conflict in Afghanistan, and severe flooding in Pakistan, the two remaining polio-endemic countries.
This is alongside the continued backdrop of the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 pandemic.
The challenges haven’t stopped there. Outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, variants of poliovirus which can emerge in under-immunised areas, have spread across Africa, Asia and Europe with new detections in London, New York and Israel.
Despite the obstacles, this collective pledge highlights the global resolve to complete one of the biggest global health achievements ever.
Ian Riseley, Chair of Trustees for The Rotary Foundation, said: “While polio exists anywhere, it is a threat everywhere. This is an opportune moment for the global community to recommit to the goal and ensure the resources and political will are fully available to protect children from polio paralysis while building stronger health systems.”
Photos: World Health Summit