Government Minister, Alok Sharma has insisted that without the intervention of Rotary International, the world would not be so close to wiping polio off the face of the earth.
Speaking at a reception organised by the Rotary Club of London to mark World Polio Day, the Secretary of State for International Development, reiterated the Government’s support behind Rotary’s 34-year campaign.
And he pointed out how the UK is the second highest government contributor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Yesterday I met with fundraisers, campaigners & polio survivors from across the UK to thank them for their work to raise money for the global fight against polio@Rotary members have been pivotal, raising almost $2 billion globally. #WorldPolioDay pic.twitter.com/oeOpMpDHm9
— Alok Sharma (@AlokSharma_RDG) October 24, 2019
Mr Sharma said: “It is fair to say that, without the support which Rotary International has provided over many decades, we would not have made the progress that we have done globally in the fight against polio.
“As a Government, we are standing very much beside you.”
Without the support which Rotary International has provided over many decades, we would not have made the progress that we have.”
During his visit to the Rotary reception, the Secretary of State, who was appointed in July this year, met polio survivors, as well as Rotarians who have been involved with immunisation days in India, as well as fundraising in this country. He described the meeting as “a very positive and uplifting event”.
He described the $2 billion ($1.55 billion) which Rotary International has raised towards the campaign since 1985 as “quite amazing”.
Next month, Abu Dhabi will host the ‘Reaching the Last Mile Forum’ which will be looking to bridge the $4.2 billion ($3.26 billion) required to reach eradication by 2023 as part of the five-year Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
On November 19th, under the theme ‘Accelerating the Pace’, the Gulf forum will bring together high-level guests from across governments, the private sector, philanthropy and academia discussing how to reach the last mile of disease-elimination faster.
Asked whether the British Government would be making a contribution to the new five-year strategy, Alok Sharma played a diplomatic straight bat.
.@WHO has announced that another type of the polio virus has been eradicated meaning only one type of wild polio remains in just two countries – Afghanistan & Pakistan
#UKaid is playing a leading role in the fight to end polio helping to immunise 45 million children each year pic.twitter.com/QvogJyr4aF
— DFID (@DFID_UK) October 24, 2019
He said: “All I can say to you is that the UK is the second biggest government donor globally in the fight against polio.
“We will continue to stand full square behind the campaign to eradicate polio. While I can’t give you an announcement today, what I can say is that we will put our best foot forward in terms of the fund-raising taking place in November.
“We recognise this is an important moment.”
We continue to see the eradication of polio as very important.”
In 2017, the Government made a £100 million pledge to polio, channelled through the World Health Organisation, which built on a 2013 pledge to spend £300 million on polio up to 2018.
He added: “Eradication is a key objective for us as a government and the progress which organisations such as Rotary International has made has been really positive.
“We continue to see the eradication of polio as very important.
“Even though we only have around 100 cases a year of polio, we need to continue with immunisations, not just in the rest of the world, but also in the UK, to make sure we keep a disease like polio at bay.”