“Our goal is to eradicate polio completely, in the same way as we have managed to eradicate other infectious diseases that particularly affect children. India has been free from polio for a year, which is a major breakthrough. Our goal is realistic, but considerable resources are needed if we are to reach it,” Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås said.
Substantial progress has been made in the efforts to achieve a world free from polio. In 1985, the disease was found in 125 countries. Today, it is found in just three. The world has succeeded in reducing the incidence of polio by 99 %.
The areas in which the polio virus can still be found are poor, without a functioning health-care system and without health workers to give vaccinations. Considerable resources are therefore required from the international community if vaccination campaigns are to be carried out in these areas.
There have recently been a number of attacks on health workers in Pakistan who have been vaccinating children against polio. Rumours that the vaccination programme is a pretext for harming children and spying on Pakistan are apparently the reason for these attacks.
“These attacks are completely unacceptable and they arise from misconceptions and a lack of knowledge. We need to make one last concerted effort in the fight against polio, and Norway intends to do its part,” Mr Holmås said.
Norway has supported efforts to combat polio for a number of years, in close collaboration with UNICEF, WHO and other donor countries. Norway has therefore decided to provide an extra allocation of NOK 50 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This funding comes in addition to the NOK 50 million Norway has already allocated to the fight against polio in 2012, through WHO.
Press contact: Communications Adviser Hege T. Magnus, mobile phone +47 941 42 792, or press officer on duty, international development, mobile phone: +47 913 95 000 (no text messages).