For over a year now, Global Citizens, alongside the supporters of RESULTS UK and the One Last Push Campaign, have been signing petitions, sending emails, tweeting and meeting with UK leaders to secure British commitment towards eradicating polio. And today, that persistence paid off.
The UK Secretary of State for International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, announced today that the UK will commit £100 million of new funding for polio eradication. This will immunise up to 45 million children against the disease every year until 2020, saving more than 65,000 children from paralysis each year. Almost £2 billion globally by 2035, as health care systems are freed up from treating polio victims.
Global Citizens everywhere played an incredible role in making this happen. Over 480,000 actions have been taken by you calling on world leaders to end polio. Our partners such as RESULTS UK and the One Last Push Campaign have campaigned tirelessly alongside us. People have tweeted, they’ve signed petitions, they have even bombarded their leaders with phone calls asking them to make this issue a priority. We have shown that collectively we are powerful, and that we won’t stand by as long as polio exists.
So far this year, there have been just 8 new cases, progress is being made. But in today’s increasingly interconnected world, whilst there’s even just one case of polio, children everywhere are at risk.
As the UK Paralympic Champion and broadcaster Ade Adepitan, who contracted polio as a baby, expressed: “We are so close to eradicating polio. We need just one last push to make this disease history and change the world.”
The UK’s commitment is certainly part of that one last push. It also brings us that much closer to complete eradication. With this new funding, there is a real possibility that we could see the last ever new case of polio this year. If the world then goes without a new case polio for three years, the the world could be certified polio-free in 2020. What could be better proof of the value of UK aid?
Since the late ’80s, the UK has always been at the forefront of polio eradication. Because of the global efforts to ensuring that polio becomes just the second human disease in history to be eradicated after smallpox, more than 16 million people are walking today who would have otherwise been paralysed. The number of people contracting the disease has been reduced by 99.9%.
We are not over the finish line yet though. There is still a US $170 million funding gap.
“Now it is time for others to step up,” Priti Patel commented, “and follow Britain’s lead and make polio history.”
We could not agree more. World leaders, you will be hearing from us. Global Citizens, thank you for your collective voice on this vital issue. Help us turn up the volume for one last push and a polio free world.