World Must Work Together To Take Advantage Of 'Unique Opportunity' To End Polio

“Ten years after Europe was declared polio-free, the world stands tantalizingly close to eradicating the disease for good,” but “[t]he world’s chances of achieving this once unthinkable goal of ending polio are being jeopardized by a funding gap of $945 million,” Sir Liam Donaldson, chair of the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, writes in this opinion piece. “This shortfall means vaccination campaigns for 2012 will face cancellations in 33 countries, leaving 94 million children under-immunized,” Donaldson notes, and continues, “This is not just unacceptable: it is also highly damaging and will make our efforts to eradicate polio more expensive and challenging in years to come.”

“With donor support, including 20 E.U. countries, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has been able to achieve some truly remarkable results,” he writes, and highlights some of these achievements. He notes, that “[t]o challenge donor awareness, the World Health Organization recently declared polio a global health emergency,” and concludes, “We now have a unique opportunity to end polio — and build a more effective global health system,” but “Europe and the world must take the long view on what is at stake. Short-term funding constraints and a lack of foresight cannot trump doing what’s right when it comes to protecting the health and futures of the world’s children” (6/26).