Saudi Arabia Delivers on its US$30 Million Commitment
Supporting the nations of the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan in their fight against polio
Geneva – The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Saudi Fund for Development signed a memorandum of understanding last week allowing for the transfer of the final installment of the Fund’s US$ 30 million commitment to ending polio.
Thanks to this agreement, a further US$ 7.5 million will flow from the Saudi Fund for Development to the WHO for the cost of polio eradication operations in the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan. UNICEF has already received US$ 17.5 million for the purchase of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and WHO a previous installment of US$ 5 million.
WHO Assistant Director-General for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration, Dr. Bruce Aylward welcomed the contribution: “Saudi Arabia is an important partner in polio eradication and a leader in their region. Their support will play a critical role in putting a stop to the virus in the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan.”
The Saudi Fund’s contribution comes at a critical moment. Polio virus continues to threaten children in the Horn of Africa region due to an ongoing outbreak centred in Somalia. These funds will help the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to carry out mass vaccination campaigns, increase immunity levels in the affected countries, stop the outbreak and protect other countries in the region from becoming infected with the virus. Additionally, support for the Afghanistan program will help to ensure that the progress made in 2013 continues. Afghanistan is seeing a 60% reduction in polio cases compared to this time last year and has seen no cases in its endemic southern region for a year.