UK Government doubles polio funding in matching grant
Citing dramatic gains achieved with polio vaccines, Prime Minister David Cameron joins Bill and Melinda Gates to call on world leaders to finish the job
DAVOS, Switzerland – British Prime Minister David Cameron said on 28 January that the United Kingdom would double its current contribution to polio eradication.
Mr Cameron called on other donors to back the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as he announced the UK’s commitment that will see an extra 45 million children fully vaccinated against the disease. Noting the question of international development assistance in the current financial climate, Mr Cameron said, “There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.”
In 20 years, polio cases have been reduced by 99 percent and the disease is now close to being only the second in history – after smallpox – to be wiped out. In 2010, India and Nigeria – historically the toughest challenges to eradication – cut cases by 95 percent each. However, until eradicated, polio remains a threat to children everywhere.
The new contributions build on the progress to date in bringing polio close to eradication, due in no small part to the leadership of Rotary International. Both Mr Cameron and Mr Gates paid tribute to Rotarians, who will have contributed nearly US$ 1.1 billion to polio eradication.
Prime Minister Cameron said: “I passionately believe that we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rid the world of the evil of polio. We have the vaccines and the tools to do it. All that’s missing is real and sustained political will to see this effort through to the end.”
The contribution from the UK is structured as a matching grant, to broaden the support base for polio eradication. For every $5 pledged by others from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012, the UK will increase its support by $1 up to a maximum of the additional £40m announced.