United Nations health agency chief Lee Jong-wook today thanked the United Kingdom for a three-year contribution of $105 million to cover anti-polio campaigns, with an immediate payout of the first $35 million, and he appealed to the international community for an additional $75 million for the 2006 first quarter.
"Flexible, multi-year funding commitments, as pledged by the UK are more crucial than ever as outbreaks in previously polio-free countries severely strain the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's budget," World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Lee said in a statement.
The most recent polio outbreaks have taken place in Angola, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Yemen and "each time there is an unexpected outbreak, more funds are needed to respond with vaccination campaigns and other measures," he said.
"Advance pledges for 2006-2008 are needed to cover costs of additional immunization and polio surveillance activities to eradicate polio and certify eradication. Most urgently, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative needs an additional $75 million by November of this year for activities in the first quarter of 2006, primarily in Africa and Asia," Dr. Lee said.
He noted that since the 1988 launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the annual number of polio cases has been reduced by more than 99 per cent – from 350,000 back then to 1,265 in 2004.