30 years ago more than 125 countries in the world were polio-endemic and more than 350,000 children were paralyzed by the disease each year. At the time, this was a major achievement in its own right, widespread immunization with a polio vaccine, which began nearly 30 years earlier, had nearly eliminated polio from the developed world. The success of the vaccine and of the smallpox eradication program led the WHO, UNICEF, and Rotary launched a global eradication effort to wipe out the disease in the rest of the world was launched in 1988. Since then there has been great progress – last year only 2000 cases of the disease were recorded annually. Thousands of volunteers have been mobilized, billions of dollars have been raised, and countless campaigns have been launched. Despite all of these achievements – including a 99% reduction in cases globally – the battle is far from over…

Yesterday, the Gates Foundation, Rotary, the UK, and Germany announced $630 million new funds over the next 3 years to make a big push further towards eradication. The announcement could not have come at a better time, polio risks spreading out of control in the coming years, in particular as the current financial crisis may mean governments in most affected regions may face budget cut backs and increased emphasis on other diseases. Polio resurgence needs to be given proper attention if it is to be conquered and a focused effort, with a fresh infusion of funds and energy, may just be what is needed.

You can read more about the announcement, here.

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