Public and private sector representatives will meet this week in Abu Dhabi at the Global Vaccine Summit, hosted by His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in partnership with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. According to the summit's website, the meeting "aims to turn a spotlight on the importance of building and maintaining powerful routine immunization systems to keep all children healthy, no matter where they live," with a focus on eradicating polio. The following opinion pieces address this effort.
Kofi Annan, The Guardian: "Our collective effort to protect children from polio has united the world in a remarkable way," and the goal of eradicating the disease "is now tantalizingly within our reach," Annan, chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, former U.N. secretary general and Nobel peace prize laureate, writes. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) recently launched "a six-year comprehensive strategy" that "requires the countries where polio remains endemic to step up their efforts to vaccinate all their children, over 100 other nations to refine their polio immunization programs and the global community to find the $5.5 billion needed in funding," he notes. "I would urge both new partners, including philanthropists and the private sector, and past donors -- including the G8 and the E.U. -- to dig deep to support this cause," Annan continues, concluding, "By coming together, we can pass a crucial milestone in transforming global health, demonstrate how collective action delivers social justice and equity, and blaze a path for the next ambitious goal for public good" (4/22).
Steve Davis, Forbes: "The global health community is tantalizingly close to wiping out [polio], and the Global Vaccine Summit promises a chance to put even more muscle into the global eradication campaign," Davis, president and chief executive officer of PATH, writes in the opinion piece, published in partnership with the Skoll World Forum. "To help banish this disabling disease, PATH is … evaluating how best to transition global immunization efforts from the mainstay oral polio vaccine to inactivated polio vaccine to prevent disease reemergence," he notes, and discusses some of these efforts. "Partnerships between the public, non-profit, and private sectors -- such as those that will emerge from this week's summit -- can accelerate progress and turn ideas into powerhouse solutions," he states, concluding, "As I join fellow health leaders in Abu Dhabi this week, I tip my hat to the many people who are strategizing how to stamp out polio once and for all" (4/22).
Julian Fantino and Bill Gates, Mail and Guardian: "[W]inning the polio fight will have important consequences beyond ridding the world of this ancient, crippling disease," Fantino, Canada's minister of international cooperation, and Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, write. "If we succeed in eradicating polio, we will prove that setting big goals leads to big victories. Furthermore, we will demonstrate once again that vaccines are the most powerful tool available in public health, giving a boost to the global effort to reach all children with all vaccines," they continue. They note the GPEI plan and the six-year, $5.5 billion cost, adding, "[D]ollars alone will not get the job done." They write, "Despite recent violence, polio vaccinators continue to deliver life-saving vaccines to children who need them most. Leaders from the endemic countries are fully committed to ending polio in their countries, and it's the responsibility of donors, civil society and government leaders to remain diligent in supporting eradication efforts." Fantino and Gates conclude, "Support now, when it matters most, will show what humanity can do when we understand the stakes. ... Together, let's make polio history" (4/23).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.