• BAAG welcomes UK pledge on polio vaccination

BAAG welcomes UK pledge on polio vaccination

25 April 2013

UK International Development Minister Alan Duncan has formally pledged an extra £300 million over six years to help eradicate polio.

Mr Duncan made the announcement at the first Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi.  The UK government said British aid would help to vaccinate up to 360 million children during that period.

The announcement was welcomed by aid and advocacy organisations, who had been urging the UK to maintain its position as a major donor in the fight against 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 Director Jawed Nader wrote to Mr Duncan ahead of this week's Summit, urging the UK government to continue its generous support for polio eradication efforts.  His letter was one of a number sent by NGOs as part of  The End of Polio Campaign, coordinated by The Global Poverty Project.

Today, Nader responded to Mr Duncan's announcement, saying  “We welcome the UK government’s latest commitment, which will make a huge difference to the lives of Afghans.  We are so close to eradicating polio in Afghanistan - 84 per cent of the country is now polio-free.  Last year, the number of cases there dropped by 54 per cent.  But one last push is needed.”

The Summit produced $4 billion worth of pledges.  The Global Poverty Project’s UK Country Director, Elisha London described it as "a huge breakthrough".  But she said there was still more to do.

“If we are to succeed, we need to secure all of the funds from across the world, up front, so no child misses out on the polio vaccine,” she said.

Polio, which is highly infectious and primarily affects children under the age of five, can be prevented by immunisation.

Photo credit: Global Poverty Project:   "We're this close to eradicating polio!" Supporters at an event in the British Parliament this week to discuss the ongoing need for polio eradication efforts by the UK government.  It brought together parliamentarians,  diaspora organisations from the 3 polio-endemic countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, and a representative of the Department for International Development.