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Canada’s Continued Commitment to Eliminating Polio

In Afghanistan, more than 7 million children are vaccinated against polio

Canada has consistently provided financial support to the global effort to eradicate Polio with a contribution totaling CDN$381 million since 2000. In November 2010, Canada announced a contribution of $58.5 million over three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

In remote parts of Afghanistan, it is rare to find a female vaccinator. Here a vaccination team checks their lists to ensure no child is missed.

Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Chris Cooter, Head of Cooperation (CIDA) David Ross and Minister of International Cooperation the Honourable Julian Fantino, join other leaders at the Polio Roundtable in Nigeria.

On September 27 2012, Canada’s contribution was recognized during a High-level Polio Eradication Event organized by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 67th General Assembly, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International. The gathering was attended by a number of head of states from around the world notably leaders of the remaining polio endemic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Other countries were also in attendance at various levels of representation including Japan, Australia, the UK and USA.

In a renewed commitment, Canada announced the Pennies and More for Polio Initiative a program aimed at generating:

  • a greater awareness and understanding by Canadians of efforts regarding polio eradication;
  • a way for Canadian individuals, groups, and organizations to contribute directly to polio eradication; and
  • additional resources for eliminating polio. 

Through the Pennies and More for Polio initiative, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will support Rotary in Canada’s fundraising goal of $1 million toward polio eradication by providing funds to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at a ratio of $1 for every $1 raised by Rotarians in Canada, up to a maximum of $1 million.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will also provide funds of equal value at a ratio of $1 for every $1 raised by Rotarians in Canada. This will result in an additional two dollars for every dollar raised by Rotary in Canada until March 1, 2013.

Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino who announced the Pennies and More for Polio initiative, noted that “hundreds of thousands of children have been immunized, often in remote, impoverished, and very insecure regions of the world," and added that: "The unwavering commitment of countries around the world, and of organizations such as the Rotary Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will help put an end to this devastating disease, which can be prevented with a simple vaccine. The Pennies and More for Polio Initiative announced today will help us to achieve that goal."

Furthermore, Minister Fantino highlighted that across Canada this summer there has been an impressive groundswell of public support for polio eradication. The Global Poverty Project, the End of Polio Campaign, Rotary International, and Results Canada have been collaborating to bring together thousands of ordinary Canadians in support of ending this debilitating disease. To date, Canada has contributed CDN$381 million to the global eradication of polio.

A Global Effort for Equal Protection

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the eradication of polio a top priority for his second term as Secretary-General. Mr. Ban opened the event by saying that “Every child should have the right to start life with equal protection from lethal diseases”. Mr. Ban was enthusiastic to see that participants of this gathering showed the collective will and determination to eradicate polio:

”Engagement of states is critical for success. The world must stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan to finish the job. We have a shared responsibility.” 

Indeed, the prospects for eradicating polio are good, but the quality of global efforts in a few districts in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan will determine the success or failure across the world.

Some countries such as Nigeria thanked Canada, Australia and Japan for their financial support and continual commitment and indicated they were on track to eliminate polio by the end of 2015.  In addition, Mr. Bill Gates described innovative ways to track and eliminate polio notably by using new technology to make elimination a reality, such as the use of satellite maps to find populations not reached and putting GPS trackers in vaccine boxes. 

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