Global Polio Eradication Initiative Roundtable. Challenges and Opportunities for Polio Eradication
Place: European Parliament, Room A5E 2
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative Partners (Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF and WHO), are organising a roundtable presentation on the challenges and opportunities for polio eradication (2014 - 2018). The discussion is being hosted by MEP Sajjad Karim and MEP Gay Mitchell and will include keynote speeches by Andris Piebalgs - European Commissioner for Development, Dr Hamid Jafari - Director of Polio Operations and Research (WHO), Dr Bob Scott - Chair of PolioPlus Committee (Rotary International).
Due to the recent polio outbreaks in Syria and in Africa, eradicating the remaining 1% of polio cases is more pressing than ever, and Europe has a crucial role to play. Over the last 25 years, polio has been reduced by more than 99%, from 350,000 annual cases to 300 annual cases. More than 2.5 billion children have been immunized all over the world, and more than 10 million people are today walking who would otherwise have been paralysed by the disease. But these recent outbreaks underscore the risk ongoing endemic transmission poses to countries everywhere.
Lack of infrastructure, political instability, and conflict are among the challenges that have led to persistent pockets of transmission in the remaining endemic countries of Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which continue to export the poliovirus to polio-free countries. Although Europe has been polio-free for over 10 years, the threat of polio importation and outbreaks remains, as highlighted in the attached published in the journal Nature on 29 October.
Failure to capitalise on the opportunity to eradicate polio could result in an estimated 200,000 cases annually within the next ten years. In contrast, polio eradication efforts have already generated net benefits of $27 billion and the new Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan – 2013-18 promises to yield up to $25 billion in additional net benefits over the next 20 years. This does not include the incalculable savings in human suffering.
The GPEI estimates the financial requirements for the 2013-2018 period to eradicate all remaining polio disease at US$ 5.5 billion, of which $4.1 billion has been committed. This event will take stock of the GPEI partners’ efforts to address remaining challenges while speakers and participants will have the opportunity to discuss how the EU can contribute to this historic effort and rid the world of this crippling disease for ever.
The roundtable discussion will take place at the European Parliament and will be followed by a networking lunch and a photo exhibition.
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