The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to invest $1.2 billion (euros) to support efforts to eradicate all forms of polio globally.
The organization made the announcement from Berlin, where the World Health Summit is being held this Sunday and ahead of next Tuesday’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) meeting.
These funds will be used to implement the 2022-2026 GPEI Strategy that seeks to eradicate outbreaks of the disease in the two countries where it is still endemic, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent outbreaks of variants of the virus. Bill Gates’ foundation has already contributed more than $5 billion in total to the IGEP.
“Polio eradication is possible, but it still remains a threat. By working together, the world can put an end to this disease,” said Bill Gates. “I want to thank Germany for co-hosting this week’s events and for their continued support for polio eradication. I urge other donors to support the eradication strategy so that no one is ever again paralyzed by polio,” he added.
The IGEP meeting takes place next Tuesday and is expected to see more funding commitments from donors and leaders from various countries to achieve the $4.8 billion budgeted in the agency’s 2022-2026 Strategy.
The plan calls for vaccinating 370 million children a year and providing other basic health services, as well as measures to support local authorities, respond to potential outbreaks or help develop the next generation of polio vaccines.
It is estimated that the GPEI has saved more than 20 million children from this paralyzing and life-threatening disease. This year, for the first time in a long time, cases have been reported in Africa and there are fears for children who have not received the vaccine due to the coronavirus pandemic.