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Global leaders who gathered in Abu Dhabi for the first Global Vaccine Summit have pledged their support towards a US$5.5 billion polio eradication
plan that intends to wipe the disease off the planet by 2018.
At the summit, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) presented a comprehensive six-year plan, the first plan to eradicate all types of polio disease – both wild poliovirus and vaccine-derived cases – simultaneously.
Global leaders and individual philanthropists signaled their confidence in the plan by pledging close to three-quarters of the plan’s projected $5.5bn cost. Bill Gates announced that his foundation would commit $1.8bn towards the cost.
“This plan isn’t just a polio eradication plan, it’s a global immunisation plan with the goal of ending polio while improving efforts to protect all children, including the most vulnerable, with life-saving vaccines,” he said. “Successful implementation of the plan requires a significant but time-limited investment that will deliver a polio-free world and pay dividends for future generations.”
Summit leaders are now calling upon additional donors to commit up front the additional $1.5bn.
Under the patronage of General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and in partnership with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Bill ‘&’ Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Vaccine Summit started in Abu Dhabi on April 24.
The 2-day summit was attended by over 300 delegates of world leaders, health experts and philanthropists.
In 2011, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bill Gates partnered to commit a total of USD 100 million – USD 50 million from each side – to procure and provide life-saving vaccinations to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The number of children paralysed by this disease, which once crippled countries worldwide, is at the lowest level ever: just 223 cases in 2012 and only 19 so far this year.
Despite 99.9 percent success rate since 1988, polio is still endemic in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The multi-billion dollar plan addresses the operational challenges of vaccinating children, including in densely populated urban areas, hard-to-reach areas and areas of insecurity.
The plan includes the use of polio eradication experience and resources to strengthen immunisation systems in high-priority countries.
“This plan puts us within sight of the endgame,” said World Health Organisation director general Margaret Chan.
“We have new knowledge about the polio viruses, new technologies and new tactics to reach the most vulnerable communities. The extensive experience, infrastructure and knowledge gained from ending polio can help us reach all children and all communities with essential health services.”
Unicef executive director Anthony Lake said ending polio will not only be an historic feat for humanity but also a huge part in efforts to reach every hard-to-reach child with a range of life-saving vaccines.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of International Cooperation and Development in her keynote speech said “although we have come a long way in combating disease and prevention through vaccination, this remarkable assembly highly motivates us to collectively start rolling up our sleeves. We can expect the momentum to carry over through lively and productive discussions and debates on key topics such as the building of strong immunization programs and partnerships, new vaccines and delivery innovations, and more effective mechanisms towards the global eradication of polio.”
She further said “the reality is that it will take quite some time and monumental efforts to vanquish the tenacious and persistent health threats that we all currently face. Our undertaking requires an exceptional amount of commitment and collaboration from decision-makers, NGOs, health experts and solutions providers across various disciplines. The question is not if we are ready for the challenge, but rather, if we can afford NOT to be? If we want to successfully resolve some of the world’s most pressing issues, then there is no other way but to fully embrace collaboration and cooperation. Problems that have a significant impact on the global society require a significant degree of unity to address as well.
She further said “in fact, we are inching closer to declaring a polio-free world. We will hear about the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s six-year plan, which will take us a huge step forward towards the global goal of saving – through vaccination – more than 20 million lives by 2020. Imagine our joy, when the word ‘polio’ finally becomes a closed chapter of human history.”
More than 300 global leaders, health and development experts, vaccinators, celebrities, philanthropists, and business leaders gathered in Abu Dhabi in the first Global Vaccine Summit to endorse the critical role that vaccines and immunization play in giving children a healthy start to life. Despite tremendous progress, one child still dies every 20 seconds from preventable diseases like pneumonia, rotavirus, measles, and meningitis.
The Summit, focused on the power of vaccines, is being held during World Immunization Week (April 24-30) to continue the momentum of the Decade of Vaccines — a vision and commitment to reach all people with the vaccines they need. Ending polio is a critical milestone in this vision.
The world is coming together around the Global Vaccine Action Plan, endorsed by nearly 200 countries last May, to develop better and more affordable vaccines and deliver them through stronger routine immunization systems. If we succeed, we can save more than 20 million lives and prevent nearly one billion illnesses by 2020. This will save nearly $12 billion in treatment costs and achieve more than $800 billion in economic gains as vaccinated children live longer, healthier, more productive lives.
The Global Vaccine Summit was held in partnership with General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates.
Summit attendees, including ministers of health, front-line health care workers, international non-governmental organizations and donors, discussed how the global community can assure that children everywhere have access to vaccines, how the roadmap to polio eradication works, and the opportunities afforded by new vaccine and delivery innovations.
The organizing partners of the Global Vaccine Summit are UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the GAVI Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.