Global Leaders Pact To Eradicate Polio

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Last Saturday, several world leaders and heads of states have emphasized their pledge to push in eradicating polio. In fact, they have pledged millions of dollars in funding several health organizations and agencies in order to bring to a halt this crippling and potentially harmful disease.

Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, who hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia mentioned that Australia is willing to spend anywhere around $53.5 million in the next four years towards fighting polio.

“While polio remains anywhere in the world it is a threat to anyone,” she noted in a joint news conference with leaders from Britain, Canada and two of the world’s four polio endemic countries — Pakistan and Nigeria. “We are here today to demonstrate our commitment to ending the fight against polio, that is ending polio for all time.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, said that his country is willing to commit further investments in polio surveillance and immunizations, albeit not mentioning a specific figure. On the other hand, philanthropist and computer mogul Bill Gates has pledged $40 million in the new funding.

Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said that “We’re at a crossroads”. He also emphasized that recent cases in China and the risk of polio spreading back across the globe is very concerning.

On the other hand, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria said he would raise annual expenditures for fighting polio, from $17 million to $30 million in 2012. He said that while the disease has been reduced by three quarters in the African nation, it still persists in several states and is starting to come back over the past year.

Prime Minister of Britain David Cameron, who had earlier pledged 40 million pounds last January to fight the disease, said that the world was in sight of battling against polio. “Today for the vast majority of countries polio has been eliminated and the harrowing images of children in iron lungs banished to the past,” he noted. “But for all this progress we haven’t quite finished the job and the truth is that nearly eradicated is just not good enough.”

According to Cameron, the world is now starting to spiral backward on ending the disease which commonly affects younger people. “If we fail to get rid of polio we run the risk of seeing it spread back to countries from which it has been eradicated,” he said.

Polio continues to be the a challenge for 54 Commonwealth nations. India, Nigera and Pakistan, three of the World’s four endemic counties are members of the said union. Afghanistan is the fourth country in which the disease has not been eradicated yet.

“Change is possible,” said Prime Minister Gillard. “This is an issue which within our lifetime was a problem right around the world. Now we are in grasping distance of the end of polio worldwide and that is what we are determined to do.”




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