• BAAG urges renewed UK action to eradicate polio

BAAG urges renewed UK action to eradicate polio

23 April 2013

As world leaders meet at the first Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, BAAG has joined other agencies in calling on the UK government to renew its commitment to eradicating polio.

Polio is an incurable disease which can paralyse or kill within hours of contraction.  International efforts to combat it have made incredible progress; since 1988, 99 per cent of polio has been eradicated.  Afghanistan is one of only three countries where the disease is still endemic.

BAAG’s Director, Jawed Nader, has written to the UK’s representative at the Summit, Alan Duncan,  Minister of State for International Development, calling for his help in ending the scourge of polio forever.

Nader praised the UK's contribution to date, noting that the UK had been an extremely generous donor to the global polio eradication initiative.  And progress was still being made; last year, he said, the number of polio cases in Afghanistan dropped by 54 per cent. 

But he added;  “All of this progress is threatened unless the UK is able to make a new commitment of £80 million a year for the next four years.”

“With this investment there is a longer lasting legacy; the UK will have saved the lives of millions of people, and improved the lives of billions more, and would have consigned to memory one of the most brutal diseases in human history.”

Nader's letter is part of The End of Polio campaign, coordinated by the Global Poverty Project.  The campaign supports global polio eradication efforts led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, and the Gates Foundation.

Polio, which is highly infectious and primarily affects children under the age of five, can be prevented by immunisation.  Following years of successful vaccination campaigns, around 84 per cent of Afghanistan is now polio-free.  In 2011 there were 80 cases of polio in the country.  Last year there were 26.   The disease is most common in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, where the World Health Organisation says insecurity and conflict make it difficult to access and vaccinate children.

For more on The End of Polio campaign, click here