INTERNATIONAL Development Secretary Priti Patel announced that the UK is leading the final global push to eliminate polio around the world for good.
Polio was wiped out in the UK in the 1980s and there are more than 100,000 British survivors today. Globally, the wild polio virus still exists in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, with 8 new cases this year.
It is likely that the last new case of polio will be diagnosed this year, paving the way for the world to be certified polio-free in 2020.
Ms Patel has announced UK support to lead the last push needed to end polio. This will immunise 45 million children against the disease each year until 2020 – that is 80 children a minute.
Britain has had a long standing commitment to making polio the second human disease in history to be eradicated, after smallpox. As a direct result of the UK’s support to global efforts, which began in 1988, more than 16 million people are walking today who would have otherwise been paralysed, and the number of people contracting the disease has been reduced by 99.9%.
The UK’s support will:
- immunise up to 45 million children against the disease each year until 2020 – that is 80 children a minute;
- save more than 65,000 children from paralysis every year;
- help over 15,000 polio workers reach every last child with life-saving vaccines and other health interventions; and
- help save almost £2 billion globally by 2035, as health care systems are freed up from treating polio victims.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “Polio has no place in the 21st Century. This devastating and highly infectious disease causes painful paralysis and is incurable – trapping the world’s poorest people in a cycle of grinding poverty.
“The UK has been at the forefront of fighting global health threats, including polio, and our last push towards eradication by 2020 will save 45 million children from contracting this disease.
“The world is closer than it ever has been to eradicating polio for good, but as long as just one case exists in the world, children everywhere are still at risk. Now it is time for others to step up, follow Britain’s lead and make polio history.”