Ending Polio
During the World Health Summit in October 2022, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $1.2 billion USD towards ending polio worldwide. This commitment falls in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI) Polio Eradication Strategy 2022 – 2026. The Gates Foundation has donated almost $5 billion to the GPEI.

“Polio eradication is within reach. But as far as we have come, the disease remains a threat. Working together, the world can end this disease,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The GPEI’s Strategy will need $4.8 billion for full implementation. With the help of The Gates Foundation, UNICEF, The Rotary Club, the United States and many more, a total of $2.6 billion in funding is going towards the Strategy. 

What this Means for Polio Eradication

The Gates Foundation’s financial commitment is only second in amount out of all parties who donated to the GPEI’s Strategy. “The fight against polio has done far more than protect children against polio. It has played a key role in strengthening health systems,” said Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The commitment from the Gates Foundation and all the other parties involved will focus on ending polio in the “last two endemic countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan – and stop outbreaks of new variants of the virus.”

Polio cases have often affected those in the most underserved and impoverished areas across the globe. This is in part because the virus is transmissible through poor hygiene practices which are hard to practice for those without proper water and health care. The following countries and organizations are the others who contributed to the GPEI’s Strategy.

  • Australia
  • France
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • United States
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America
  • Latter-day Saint Charities
  • Rotary International
  • Luxembourg
  • Republic of Korea
  • Japan
  • Germany

GPEI Strategy 2022 – 2026

The Strategy adds to two vital goals that are in line with the current progress of the eradication effort. The two goals are: (1) To permanently interrupt all Poliovirus transmission in endemic countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan). (2) To stop cVDPV (circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus) transmission and prevent outbreaks in non-endemic countries.

The GPEI Strategy will achieve these goals by “[transforming] its approach in each region and country through five mutually reinforcing objectives.” GPEI’s structure and holistic approach to the strategy support these objectives and goals. With everything in place for what the GPEI’s Strategy stands for, the eradication of polio is within reach.

Looking Forward

The Gates Foundation’s ongoing donation to the important goal of eradicating polio is vital to helping those in poverty. Polio disproportionately affects those in poverty as they are often unvaccinated and without proper means for hygiene regimens that would otherwise prevent the virus from spreading. The work of the GPEI, the Gates Foundation, UNICEF and many others can result in the eradication of polio with support from around the globe.

Sean McMullen
Photo: Flickr