A little under a month ago Britain became the first G8 country to spend 0.7% of its national income on aid and development. After years of campaigning this historic achievement was reached despite a domestic agenda of public sector cuts and high unemployment.
We can point to hundreds of people, moments, organisations and statistics that could claim some responsibility for making it all happen. But the greatest demonstration of ‘good aid’ must be the huge strides we’ve made in the eradicating diseases like the Poliovirus, which has been reduced by 99% and now exists in only three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Right now, this week, we have a chance to go even further than just reducing the number of polio cases – we have the opportunity to completely eradicate the second-ever human disease in history.
The last time a child was paralysed in the Americas was over 20 years ago and Europe was declared polio-free in 2002. But this huge progress is threatened.
Next week, at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates, will host world leaders and representatives to announce new funding commitments that will help us rid the world of polio.
Failure to act on this plan and commitment could lead to an estimated 200,000 paralysed children a year within a decade. Nonendemic countries remain at risk for cases easily imported from the remaining countries so immunisation must continue everywhere to ensure that polio is eradicated worldwide. It is now a leadership question of political will and public pressure.
Countries like the UK, US and Canada have been huge supporters of polio eradication so far and whilst many of them recognise the significance of the opportunity before us, we are yet to hear any firm funding commitments. If we are to finish the job, we must exert some public pressure and call for multi year commitments from each. If countries like the UK, for example, commit to five years of funding experts are confident that will unlock other contributions and take us down the path of complete eradication.
At the Global Poverty Project we’re working with our global partners, including the ONE Campaign, to make enough public noise around polio – in the hope this will convince the UK government and others to commit to making polio the first disease to be eradicated in the 21st century – a fantastic legacy for our aid spending.
The world is only a few cases away from killing polio forever. Help make it happen by signing The End of Polio Petition calling on world leaders to finish the job by making funding commitments that will see a polio-free world.
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