Global Leaders Pledge $2.6 Billion to Eradicate Polio

Donors hope to vaccinate 450 million children each year

An array of donors have pledged $2.6 billion to help fund the final drive to eradicate polio.

The contributions, announced at an event called the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi, mark the first phase of funding for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Polio Endgame Strategy 2019–2023, which will cost an estimated $3.27 billion. Last month, the GPEI announced that the world has eradicated two of the three wild poliovirus strains, leaving only wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in circulation. Nigeria—the last country in Africa to have cases of wild polio—has not seen a case since 2016.

The new pledges come at a critical time for the polio eradication effort. Barriers to reaching every child—including inconsistent campaign quality, insecurity, conflict, massive mobile populations, and, in some instances, parental refusal to the vaccine—have led to ongoing transmission of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Further, low immunity to the virus in parts of Africa and Asia where not all children are vaccinated has sparked outbreaks of a rare form of the virus. The GPEI is seeking to protect 450 million children from polio every year.

Pledges came from a diverse group of donors and nations, with the largest single amount—$1.08 billion—offered by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other large pledges came from the United States, $215.92 million; Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, $160 million; the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, $160 million; and Rotary International, $150 million. Earlier this month, the United Kingdom announced it would contribute up to $514.8 million to the GPEI.

In addition to overcoming barriers to reach every child, this funding will ensure the resources and infrastructure built by the GPEI can support other health needs today and in the future. Polio workers deliver vitamin A supplements, provide other vaccines like those for measles and yellow fever, counsel new mothers on breastfeeding, and strengthen disease surveillance systems to anticipate and respond to outbreaks.

Source: World Health Organization, November 19, 2019