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Polio: Paralympians show support to end disease

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Ex-Team GB Paralympians Ade Adepitan and Anne Wafula-Strike who have been affected by polio met with the new Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening today to show support for eradicating the disease.

Former Paralympic GB athletes Ade Adepitan and Anne Wafula-Strike met with the new Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening today to show support for ending polio.

The two paralympians who have both been affected by polio, joined other survivors and charity campaigners from across the UK to hand over a petition in support of the Global Poverty Project’s End of Polio campaign.

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, said:

We have all been inspired by Paralympics GB this summer and it is great how they have teamed up with Global Poverty Project and Rotary International to lend their support to such a worthy cause. 

Parents in this country no longer have to worry that their children will contract polio, which was eradicated in Britain many years ago. We are now on the verge of eradicating it across the world. Thanks to the UK’s doubling of support, we helped to vaccinate 45 million children and halve the number of polio cases recorded last year.?

It is vitally important other donors join us to support these global efforts and protect those who are still vulnerable.

Ending polio

Polio was eradicated in the UK in the 1980’s and in the last 20 years, polio cases have fallen by 99% and the disease is now close to being only the second in history - after smallpox - to be wiped out.

At the end of last year India celebrated a whole year free of any new cases of polio, however the situation remains endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Current progress in eliminating the disease is threatened by a funding shortfall of almost US $1 billion for 2012/13.

The Paralympians met with the Secretary of State to thank the Government for leading the way in supporting the eradication of polio around the world. They handed over a petition to encourage the Government to continue their commitment to fighting this preventable disease which still disables children for life and according to reports, costs the global economy up to $50 billion.

Elisha London, Global Poverty Project UK Country Director said:

Thanks to the UK Government’s past commitment to global polio eradication, millions of children around the world have been vaccinated against this debilitating and life threatening disease.

As Parliament resumes, it is imperative that the UK government remains focused on the goal to create a world that is polio free.

In January 2011, the Prime Minister announced a doubling of the UK support to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative during 2011 and 2012. He challenged others to match our extra funding and improve routine immunisation coverage. British support helped fully immunise over 45 million children and leveraged a further £100 million.  

Find out more about our work to end polio