GPEI statement on proposed UK aid cuts

As of 4 May 2021

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is greatly concerned by the United Kingdom’s proposed cuts to contributions toward polio eradication in 2021. The proposed 95% reduction will result in an enormous setback to the eradication effort at a critical moment.

The UK has a long legacy as a leader in global health and its leadership in polio eradication, including financial contributions to the GPEI, have driven wild poliovirus out of all but two countries in the world. The GPEI values the UK government’s steadfast partnership and shared commitment to eradicating polio, and UK citizens have generously championed the drive to end polio. This has helped bring the world to the cusp of being polio-free, whilst providing an investment in broader public health capacity.

In 2019, the UK government pledged to help vaccinate more than 400 million children a year against polio and to support 20 million health workers and volunteers in this vital work. In addition to their life-saving work to end polio, these health workers have been in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 and have helped some of the world’s most vulnerable countries protect their citizens. The UK’s ongoing support is needed to ensure that the polio infrastructure can continue supporting COVID-19 response efforts, while also resuming lifesaving immunization services against other deadly childhood diseases. In 2020, the UK government’s contributions ensured that the GPEI could continue to support outbreak response in 25 countries and conduct surveillance in nearly 50, all whilst strengthening health systems.  The continuation of such support will not be possible unless replacement funds are identified, and as such, this funding cut will have a potentially devastating impact on the polio eradication program.

The GPEI recognises the challenging economic circumstances faced by the UK government and a host of other countries. Governments worldwide are making critical investments in the health of their citizens, as well as evaluating global commitments. Cutting the UK government’s contributions by 95% will, however, put millions of children at increased risk of diseases such as polio and will weaken the ability of countries to detect and respond to outbreaks of polio and other infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Furthermore, it risks delaying polio eradication and the dismantling of one of the most effective disease surveillance and response networks at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues its devastation.

GPEI looks forward to working with the UK and the broader global community to address these urgent issues, which jeopardize the collective investment and progress toward a polio free world. Together we can end polio forever and ensure that polio infrastructure and its assets continue to strengthen preparedness and response and save lives.


Related News

   25/01/2023
This snapshot shows all polio events and outbreaks that occurred/were ongoing in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) in 2022
   16/01/2023
This is the target year for interrupting all remaining poliovirus transmission globally, both in the remaining endemic countries and in outbreak settings.
   12/01/2023
Dr Hamid Jafari, Director of Polio for the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, reflects on his time eradicating polio in India and what lessons we can take from this to address the final challenges for achieving eradication in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
   03/01/2023
When a mother brought her young son to a clinic in Paghman, a town not far from the Afghan capital Kabul, Spogmai, a nurse on duty at the time, paid special attention.
   19/12/2022
Recommendations from the international review of Afghanistan’s poliovirus surveillance system are yielding important results for the country’s eradication programme.
   08/12/2022
As 2022 draws to a close, independent technical bodies from key epi-centres dive deep on what it will take to achieve success in 2023