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Political Will, Funding Needed For Successful Polio Eradication Initiative

While there is “much to be proud of” in the progress in the fight against polio, “there’s still more work to be done,” former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. Martin, a polio survivor, notes that in 1988, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched, 350,000 cases in more than 125 countries were recorded annually, but “[s]o far this year, we’ve seen just 171 cases, and only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria have never stopped transmission.” He continues, “Canada has been a leader in this fight,” but “[t]he credit for this progress, of course, goes far beyond Canada” to “the work of global partners like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the frontline workers whose tireless efforts make all of this possible; and the countries that are making the political and financial commitments necessary to see the end of this disease.”

However, “our work is not finished,” Martin writes, noting “[a] funding gap threatens our ability to sustain our efforts until the job is done.” He continues, “Unless [immunization] efforts are fully funded, polio could resurge and threaten children in countries that are now polio-free.” He concludes, “We need a universal commitment, from both donor and endemic country governments, to provide the political will and the financial resources to cross the finish line. As global leaders, it is our collective responsibility to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to eradicate polio once and for all” (10/30).