Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi
Last week in Abu Dhabi, the Gates Foundation drew together a diverse group of partners and world leaders to highlight the investment case for immunization and recommit to the fight for polio eradication at the Global Vaccine Summit. At the Summit, Rotary International’s President Sakuji Tanaka stated that the eradication of polio requires “the commitment of national and local leaders where polio still exists, the continued support of donor countries, and the steadfast commitment of heroic vaccinators.”

At the Summit, global leaders made statements in support of efforts to immunize children around the world and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative formally launched its bold new 6-year endgame strategy. In response, public and private donors announced $4 billion in financial commitments towards the $5.5 billion global need for polio, including $1.8 billion forms the Gates Foundation, $457 million from the U.K., $250 million from Canada, $240 million from Norway, $120 million from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, $227 million from the Islamic Development Bank, and $130 million from Germany.

Even though there was much focus on the eradication of polio at this Summit, there were many other important issues that were addressed.

As the funding for immunization efforts was being pledged in Abu Dhabi, new child vaccines were being distributed on two other continents. Thanks to the previously-committed donor support to the GAVI Alliance, GAVI and its partners on the ground were about to distribute three vaccines in three new countries: pentavalent in Somalia, rotavirus in Haiti, and pneumococcal in Uganda.

– Matthew Jackoski

Source: ONE, SABIN
Photo: Breitbart

Polio 101
Poliomyelitis, commonly referred to as polio, is a highly contagious viral disease that, despite being deemed as a problem of the past by the Western world, remains a very current problem in other parts of the world. Though its remnants are seen in the stunted limbs of the survivors, polio’s worst effect is no disfigurement.

Polio is a potentially fatal disease of the nervous system that causes paralysis. After infection, the organs can stop functioning within a matter of hours. Fatalities normally occur if the virus affects the respiratory system, preventing the victim from breathing. In some cases, polio leaves an individual with permanent paralysis, typically in the lower body.

In the majority of cases, polio shows no symptoms. Although anyone can contract the disease when they come in contact with it, the disease mainly affects children under five. Currently, there is no cure for polio once it has been contracted. Programs to eradicate polio work solely through prevention by vaccinating children at a young age.

As a result of a huge global effort to eradicate the disease, it has largely disappeared and has become one of the global health’s success stories. Only 223 cases were reported in 2012 (down from an estimated 350,000 in 1988). According to the World Health Organization, only three countries in the world still report polio as a problem: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

At the Global Vaccine Summit in the United Arab Emirates in April 2013, a five-year plan was presented to ensure the eradication of all forms of polio, backed by contributions of 75% of the 5.5 billion necessaries for implementation.

– Farahnaz Mohammed
Source: WHO
Photo: Cyrusdurant

The British Aid office has announced that it will step up their current efforts to vaccinate more children against polio in developing countries. The office has promised to vaccinate up to 360 million children against polio in the next six years.

The British Aid office will work to eradicate polio in the three countries where it still remains prevalent: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. International Development Secretary Justine Greening was adamant that the UK would not stand on the sidelines while easily prevented diseases, including polio, still exist. She believes that our generation has the ability and responsibility to make polio a thing of the past.

The UK announcement came in the weeks leading up to the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi.  The Summit was attended by the UK’s International Development Minister Alan Duncan, who pledged the UK’s support of 300 million pounds over six years. The conference highlighted the importance of routine immunization in achieving global child health and development goals. British Aid is attempting to make a final push in this opportunity to eliminate the disease. They would like to see additional donors join them in their fight to form a healthier population to lead to increased economic development.

The British announcement was followed by another from Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who committed six years of support from his organization to the implementation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s plan to achieve a polio-free world by 2018. The U.K has already helped over 200 million children receive vaccinations since 2009. They believe, however, that there is more work to be done and that polio vaccinations must be included in health programs and routine immunizations in order to improve the general health of developing nations.

-Caitlin Zusy 
Photo: Guardian

The global community is painstakingly close to eradicating polio. Increases in vaccinations have spared the lives of more than 10 million people worldwide. Polio, a disease which used to claim the lives of up to 500,000 people a year, is almost gone. Its eradication would be a crucial milestone in transforming global health and demonstrating the effectiveness of collective action.

Global collective efforts have brought together UN agencies, governments, foundations, private businesses, and individuals to combat this disease. Worldwide, the number of recorded cases last year fell to an all-time-low of 223. There are only three countries where polio remains endemic: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

These countries are susceptible to polio because of the fringe communities such as nomads, migrant workers, and displaced populations. People are much more likely to contract polio in areas of conflict and insecurity. In order to eradicate polio, vaccines must be delivered to the most marginalized of our society. This requires belief that every person has equal worth.

If the global community is not careful, and do not maintain its commitment to vaccinations and eradication, the World Health Organization has warned that the disease could break out again, reversing the last few decades of progress. This caveat has motivated UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to intensify efforts to eliminate the disease.

This ambition has lead the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to develop a six year strategy requiring countries where polio remains, to step up their efforts to vaccinate all children. Additionally, they are pressuring over 100 other countries to refine their polio immunization programs to ensure all children have access to the vaccines.

Kofi Annan has been urging the international community to provide the necessary funding to make vaccinations for marginalized and hard to reach children possible. The Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi this week implores partners and philanthropists to dig deep to support increased access to polio vaccinations.

It is vital that people understand that vaccinations improve overall health and drive development. Additionally, there are impressive financial benefits to eradicating polio – in the sum of an estimated $40 billion or more – with most of them accruing in the world’s poorest countries. Success of this nature begs the question: what do we, the global community, have to lose?

– Caitlin Zusy 
Source: Guardian