Statement by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on the occasion of the World Health Assembly resolutions declaring completion of polio eradication a global emergency and endorsing the Global Vaccine Action Plan
“Today marks a huge victory in the fight to protect all children from vaccine-preventable diseases, no matter where they live. With polio levels at an all-time low, world health ministers recognized the incredible opportunity we have to stop transmission of polio, and boldly declared polio a programmatic emergency for global public health. They also endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a roadmap to save millions of lives by 2020 through more equitable access to existing vaccines, with polio eradication a critical early milestone in the plan.
India’s recent success to become a polio-free country proves that polio can be stopped even in the most challenging circumstances. Now, the only countries where polio transmission has never been stopped -- Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- are operating in emergency mode to improve the quality of vaccination campaigns, with the support of international partners.
We’re all responsible for creating a polio-free world while we still can. But progress will continue only if we have political will and funds to cover a significant funding gap that is undermining progress to date. Fully funding polio eradication efforts can get rid of polio forever and strengthen the systems we need to help achieve the global vision of the Decade of Vaccines.”