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Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Field Report

Global Citizen Polio Report: Commonwealth Leaders Come Through On Their Commitments

With polio 99.9% eradicated, the core aim for health workers on the frontlines of fighting polio is to reach those children who due to their nomadic and low-income status, often miss out on essential healthcare. This includes children of brick kiln workers, pictured above in Lakki Marwat, one of the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan.

More than 740 polio vaccination teams go door to door to protect over 173,000 children under the age of 5 against polio. It is teams like these whose work will be funded by Canada’s pledge of $11.4 million made on the Global Citizen stage in 2013. Canada’s pledge is one of eight commitments covered in a report  published by Global Citizen today, to reveal if Commonwealth leaders are standing by promises they have made to eliminate this paralyzing disease once and for all.

As the report  outlines we are pleased to announce that since our campaigning began in 2011, Global Citizens actions, and our advocacy efforts and those of our sector partners have helped secure eight financial commitments from Commonwealth leaders, worth more than $1 billion which are together set to affect 523 million lives.

boy.jpgImage: Flickr, UNICEF Ethiopia

Through our accountability tracking and reporting, we are able to share that as of the end of March 2018, these commitments are on all track to complete within their promised timeline. More than $794 million has been disbursed to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, meaning that over 323 million lives have already been impacted to date. Indeed back when we first supported eradication efforts in 2011, polio was 99% eradicated. Today, we are more than 99.9% toward achieving the end game — zero polio.

It is a pertinent time to be underlining the capacity of the Commonwealth to protect global health security, as the Commonwealth Heads of Government are due to meet tomorrow, in London. And indeed, as one of the few global networks containing both endemic countries and those with the funds to make significant commitments towards eradication, they have proven their power on this issue.

This report is also proof of the power of the collective voice to drive political action. It would not have happened without Global Citizens taking 248,960 actions around the world to see the eradication of polio. And it certainly would not have happened without the many years of tireless work on behalf of our partners, including Rotary International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even with this story of ongoing progress — we must not become complacent. While polio remains in only a few locations — Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria — these are some of the most difficult to access places in the world. If we miss just one community, the polio virus could spread again around the world reaching 200,000 cases a year within a decade. The latest statistics at March 2017 show that there were 22 cases of polio in 2017, and at the time of writing, 8 cases in 2018, with two cases, one in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s first case of 2018 being reported in the first week of April alone, making Global Citizen’s ongoing call to action all the more vital.

At our event in London last night on the eve of the Commonwealth Summit, Global Citizen called on the Commonwealth Heads of Government to recommit to finishing the job on polio once and for all, and to apply these lessons to ending other deadly diseases, like malaria and neglected tropical diseases.

The outgoing chair of the Commonwealth, the Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, responded to our cry whilst on the stage.

“In response to actions taken by Global Citizens and Rotarians since 2015, Commonwealth leaders have committed over $220 million in funding for polio eradication and are set to vaccinate 140 million children over the next three years," Prime Minister Muscat said. "At this year’s Commonwealth Summit, we will do our utmost to ensure we remain committed to finishing the job on polio in Pakistan and Nigeria.”

However, we were disappointed to see the lack of political appetite for rallying behind polio once again at CHOGM 2018. As Baroness Scotland remarked in 2015, polio eradication is “an exemplary example of what the Commonwealth can do." We cannot afford to turn our backs now after all our hard work. If the Commonwealth continues to lead the way as it has in the past, by the time of the next Summit, we will have succeeded in finally wiping out polio completely from the planet.

Moreover, after 2017’s successful Global Polio Eradication Initiative replenishment, Global Citizen has sensed that some governments are focusing their attention on other priorities. We note robust support for immunization within the Nigerian government, but hope this does not come at the expense of the polio program. Similarly, with upcoming 2018 and 2019 elections in Pakistan and Nigeria, respectively we hope to see polio eradication continue to remain a priority. We note that with several upcoming global health replenishments over the next few years, Global Citizens will need to keep taking action to ensure there remains a strong global commitment to achieving the eradication of polio.

Commonwealth leaders will continue to hear from us both on the progress of these commitments, and on requests for funding to ensure we finish the job on polio once and for all. Together, we will make history, and see polio to be the second ever disease eradicated in human history.

Full report here.