U.S. Must Make New Commitment To Help Eradicate Polio

“Last month the U.S. government stood on the sidelines as much of the world united for the final push to eradicate polio,” David Oshinsky, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and director of the Division of Medical Humanities at the NYU-Langone Medical Center, writes in a Roll Call opinion piece. “At the Global Vaccine Summit on April 25 in Abu Dhabi, world leaders committed $4 billion to the global effort to end this devastating disease,” he writes, adding, “Together they are investing in a new plan to get us to the finish line and achieve a polio-free world by 2018.” But “one important piece of the puzzle is currently missing: the United States,” he continues, noting, “The absence of a new commitment from the U.S. government is troubling and surprising, given our tradition of leading the polio eradication effort.”

“Now, Congress has a chance to put us back on track,” Oshinsky continues, adding, “Despite new commitments from around the world, including major multi-year commitments from several countries, the present plan still faces a $1.5 billion funding gap that dramatically compromises its chances of success.” He writes, “The U.S. government must now step up, as it has so generously in the past, by making a multi-year commitment to polio eradication in the same way it has for other critical global health priorities, including the GAVI Alliance for children’s vaccines and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.” He states, “In these times of budget austerity, it is more important than ever for Congress to prioritize polio and go beyond the president’s proposal,” concluding, “Congress and the American people have always been on the front lines of this struggle. We must continue our commitment until the job is done” (5/14).