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Fact Sheet

Protecting our investment: the US$ 275 million funding gap

A threat to Europe's polio-free status?

Achieving a polio-free Europe

The WHO European Region has been polio-free for more than three years thanks to the hard work of public health workers and volunteers in its Member States, with the additional financial support of bilateral agencies and international partners.

In addition to the substantial domestic polio eradication costs borne by the European Region Member States, many European governments (including the governments of Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) have supported other countries in the region to protect their children against polio.

Rotary International and the United States government (through US CDC and USAID) have funded considerable vaccine and operational costs; and the United Nations Foundation has also funded over US$ 1.3 million of operational costs to help the polio eradication effort in the region.

Global progress

European governments and institutions have also made significant contributions to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, funding vital activities in over 100 polio-endemic and high-risk countries.

Top ten donors Donations since 1985 in US$ millions (includes pledges to 2005)

United States (CDC, USAID) 598
Rotary International 462
United Kingdom 341
Japan 200
Netherlands 110
Germany 65
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 50
Denmark 36
Canada 35
United Nations Foundation 31

  • Of the European governments, the United Kingdom has contributed the most funding to the Initiative to date: over US$ 341 million since 1985. In 2002, the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) set in motion more than US$ 100 million for polio eradication activities in India over the next four years.
  • The Netherlands has donated US$ 110 million since 2000, to support vital disease surveillance systems.
  • Germany has been a long-standing partner to the polio eradication programme in India, providing US$ 65 million for oral polio vaccine since 1997.
  • Denmark was also one of the earliest partners to the programme in India, providing support since 1997 for vaccine, cold chain, and surveillance support.
  • In 2001 Luxembourg, with its first contribution to the Initiative, showed how the impact of a donation can be maximised by strategic directing of funds. Luxembourg made a US$ 3.2 million contribution to fully fund the gaps in six of its priority countries: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Mali, Namibia, Niger and Senegal.
  • Italy has provided US$ 1 million each year over the past three years for India's polio eradication efforts.
  • In 2001, Norway provided US$ 3.1 million to the Initiative, both globally and to support activities in Nepal and Ethiopia.
  • In 2001, Ireland signed a three-year US$ 2.3 million global pledge, in addition to supporting activities in Ethiopia.
  • In 2001, the European Commission provided US$ 17.4 million to the governments of Nigeria for its polio eradication efforts.
  • Private sector partners including Aventis Pasteur, British Airways (through the 'Change for Good' Appeal) and De Beers have made significant contributions.

This support has helped to bring polio to its lowest levels in history. Today there are just ten polio-endemic countries. The number of polio cases was down by 99.8 per cent from 1988 to only 480 cases last year. Disease surveillance systems have been strengthened. Health workers have been trained to ensure rapid reporting of polio cases and other epidemic-prone diseases. It is critical that we build on these achievements to stop transmission of poliovirus globally and avoid any re-establishment of poliovirus transmission in polio-free areas. Until all children are immunized against polio, children remain at risk from this crippling disease.

Protecting our investment

Today, the greatest risk to the polio-free status of Europe is a reintroduction of the virus from the remaining polio-endemic countries - such as the importations to Bulgaria and Georgia from south Asia in 2001. Helping to finish the job in south Asia and Africa is perhaps the most important step in protecting our investment in a polio-free Europe.