“A final push to eliminate polio worldwide”. Conor Lenihan announces new funding to fight polio
Conor Lenihan T.D., Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights to day announced additional funding of €500,000 for the Polio Eradication Initiative. This brings Ireland's contribution to the Initiative to €1.67 million for 2005. Ireland has provide financial support to the Initiative since 2003.
The Polio Eradication Initiative was launched by the World Health Organisation 1988. The number of polio cases has been reduced from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to just under 700 reported cases at the end of 2003.
Announcing the additional funding, Minister Lenihan said
“The eradication of polio would be one of the greatest public health achievements of our time.
The Polio Eradication Initiative has done truly tremendous work, achieving a reduction in cases of more than 99%. Today the global campaign to eradicate this illness is close to success.
Within a year, it should be possible to reach a situation where there are no new cases and there is a real prospect that in the coming two years the UN will be able to formally declare that the world is polio free.
The key obstacle to success is funding and Ireland is responding to a request from the Polio Eradication Initiative to fill a gap in their current resources.
The final push to eliminate polio worldwide deserves our support and that support will be continued next year.
The public want to see that aid can work. They want to see results for the Government's spending. The Polio Eradication Initiative is delivering those results”
Polio has been one of the world's most serious infectious diseases. Although preventable by vaccination in infancy it has still caused a major burden of illness up to recent times. In the 1980s polio was present in over 125 countries in five continents, and paralysing more than 350, 000 children each year.
In 1988 the World Health Organization launched a global initiative to eradicate polio. The Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.
Smallpox is the only other virus which has been successfully eradicated.
For further information on the Polio Eradication Initiative see www.polioeradication.org
6 July 2005