“I am pleased to announce that the Norwegian Government is proceeding with plans to support the new polio eradication plan by providing an allocation of NOK 240 million in 2014. We intend to continue our strong support for this important initiative for a further five years,” Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås said.
“Thanks to tremendous progress in 2012, we now have a unique opportunity to change history and eradicate polio,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Norway is a leader in contributing to health and development around the world. Its commitment to polio eradication is another example of Norway’s generosity to keep children healthy everywhere.”
“From our own historical experience, we know the fear and suffering caused by the polio virus. We now have the opportunity to eradicate a disease that is continuing to harm and kill people,” Mr Holmås said.
This funding will be channelled through the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The areas in which the polio virus can still be found are poor, and they lack a functioning health-care system and health workers to give vaccinations. If we are to succeed in eradicating polio, we must focus particular attention on giving women improved access to health services,” Mr Holmås said.
Significant progress has been made in the efforts to eradicate polio. In 1985, the disease could be found in 125 countries. Today, it is only found in three: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The number of new cases is falling in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but rising in Nigeria. Violent attacks on health workers administering vaccinations have caused problems.
“I am concerned and appalled by the violent attacks on health workers administering the polio vaccine. This makes it all the more important to build a broad international alliance to promote the eradication of polio. If we are to win the battle against polio, we must also make sure that the disease is not spread once again to countries that are currently free of the virus,” Mr Holmås said.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has estimated that it will cost around NOK 30 billion to achieve the complete eradication of polio in five years’ time. Given the current level of funding, we are around NOK 12 billion short of the funding needed to reach this goal. Norway will announce its increased contribution to the fight against polio at the vaccine summit in Abu Dhabi this week.
Norway has supported efforts to eradicate polio for many years, and last year it provided an additional allocation to these efforts.
Press contact: Mr. Svein Baera, communication adviser, phone: +47 916 72 042