By Vincess Okushi

New funding for polio vaccinations and healthcare innovation for 370 million children has been announced by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at tackling health challenges facing low-income countries.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF disclosed this today, 11 October 2023 in a statement.

It said the new financing partnership will address critical global health opportunities as well as eradicate polio and ensure more accessible health coverage to the people who need them most.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the expected €1.1 billion financing package aims to provide new funding to eradicate a human disease for only the second time in history and help solve the health and development challenges faced by the world’s most vulnerable people, who otherwise do not get fair access to healthcare services and innovations.

We are about to wipe polio off the face of the Earth. The European Commission, the EIB, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are partnering to get through the final stretch. With 1 billion euros supported by our European investment strategy Global Gateway, we will invest in stronger health systems globally and local vaccine and medicines production, manufacturing, and administration, where it is most needed. Global cooperation has helped us put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it will help us get rid of polio once and for all

Also, Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank said the partnership under the Commission’s European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) marks a significant increase in funding for global health and human development as they are committed to maximizing the impact of every Euro by the EU and the European Investment Bank.

Today we are united to write the final chapter in the history of polio. The European Investment Bank is playing its part in a unique partnership with philanthropy and health partners, by providing EUR 500 million for investment in support of the Global Polio Eradication Programme. This initiative will be a milestone in scaling up immunization and strengthening healthcare, ensuring that every child, regardless of their circumstances, can be protected against polio

However, the co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda French Gates noted that they aim to swiftly eradicate wild poliovirus in the continent.

Thanks to medical innovations, the world eradicated one human disease – smallpox. Today we’re on the verge of ending another – wild poliovirus. I am committed to ensuring that no child, anywhere in the world, faces this awful disease. I am also optimistic that we will eradicate polio once and for all and make health innovations more accessible for everyone, particularly those in the poorest countries,

WHO Director-General. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that,

Another €500 million aims to expand the innovation capacity of health systems in low- and middle-income countries. This includes new funding to initiatives supported by the European Commission such as efforts to make health innovations like mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics more accessible to people in low- and middle-income countries, under Europe’s investment plan for the world, Global Gateway. More investments in health worldwide will be discussed among global leaders and partners at the upcoming Global Gateway Forum (25-26 October)

We know that when a community is healthy, economies grow

Reaching the under-vaccinated children in the most remote and hardest-to-reach areas is essential for finishing the job of polio eradication

Even as UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell stresses that,

These new funds will not only help to drive us towards a polio-free world but will also help to build more sustainable and resilient health systems to protect the same children and communities who are at risk of polio against the many other health threats they face.

Polio eradication is within reach, but the progress is fragile, and we must remain laser-focused

“This new funding will help ensure that all children get vaccinated to eradicate polio while strengthening community-based health systems. No child should suffer from an easily preventable disease

It was revealed that WHO and UNICEF being implementing partners for the polio funding, will deploy the resources to eradicate polio, support the distribution of other childhood immunizations, and strengthen health systems to better respond to emerging health threats.



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