Funding the Endgame of Polio Eradication by Minda Dentler

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that reduced eradication efforts could cause a global resurgence of polio which, in ten years, could cripple up to 200,000 children a year. The final five-year effort to eradicate polio – estimated to cost less than $1 billion a year – must be fully funded.

NEW YORK – Growing up in India, I didn’t have access to the polio vaccine, and the disease crippled my legs as a child. As a result, I have had many surgeries and cannot walk without splints and crutches. My story is not unique. When the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was created in 1988 (I was ten years old at the time), the disease crippled around 350,000 children around the world every year.

Thirty-four years later, vaccination campaigns have almost eliminated poliomyelitis. But if we don’t finance a new vaccination campaign today, we risk a resurgence of the disease.

The GPEI – which coordinates the efforts of frontline workers, communities, national governments and global partners to help vaccinate children – has played a major role in reducing polio cases and is now leading the campaign to eliminate definitely the disease. Since 1988, the GPEI has helped vaccinate three billion children against poliomyelitis, and more than 20 million people who would otherwise be paralyzed are able to walk.

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