dentler2_ Mohammed HamoudAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_polio Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Funding the Polio Eradication Endgame

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that cutting back on eradication efforts could cause a global resurgence of polio that ten years from now could paralyze up to 200,000 children a year. The final five-year push to eradicate polio – at an estimated cost of less than $1 billion a year – must be fully funded.

NEW YORK – Growing up in India, I did not have access to the polio vaccine, and the disease paralyzed my legs when I was an infant. As a result, I have undergone many surgeries and cannot walk without leg braces and crutches. My story is not unique. When the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was established in 1988 (I was ten at the time), the disease paralyzed an estimated 350,000 children worldwide each year.

Thirty-four years later, immunization campaigns have almost eliminated polio. But unless we fund a new vaccination push 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 drive to eliminate the disease for good. Since 1988, the GPEI has helped to immunize three billion children against polio, and more than 20 million people who otherwise would have been paralyzed are able to walk.