By Victoria Ojeme, Abuja
The United Kingdom says it will support the vaccination of more than 750 children in a minute against polio in developing countries around the world totalling an annual 400 million children.
The spokesperson for the Department for International Development, DFID in Nigeria, David Smith said: “The Secretary of State announcement today is yet another clear demonstration of our commitment and support to Nigeria, and to ending the plight of polio once and for all.”
He said “This new pledge brings UK support to ending polio up to £1.7 billion since 1995”
The UK’s new package of up to £400 million will go towards the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This means the UK, along with other donors, will help support more than 20 million health workers and volunteers to reach children with vaccines and other healthcare.
“This funding which runs from 2020 to 2023 will help buy tens of millions doses of polio vaccine every year – enough to vaccinate more than 750 children a minute,” David said.
Global efforts to fight wild polio mean the disease now only exists in three countries worldwide – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. The UK’s new pledge will help global efforts to end the disease for good.
According to the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, “We have made tremendous progress to fight this debilitating disease, but our work must continue if we are to eradicate it forever.”
Sharma added that “That’s why I am today committing fresh support to help immunize 400 million children a year around the world. If we were to pull back on immunizations, we could see 200,000 new cases each year in a decade. This would not only be a tragedy for the children affected and their families, but also for the world. We cannot let this happen”
Without this new support, tens of thousands of children would be at risk of paralysis from the disease, which leaves many unable to walk for the rest of their lives.