New six-year plan to deliver a polio-free world by 2018Listen /
The plan calls for a scaling up of polio vaccination programmes, especially in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, where polio is still endemic.
WHO says the number of children paralyzed by polio is at the lowest ever with 19 cases reported in 2013, compared to 223 cases last year.
WHO and UNICEF say the Polio Eradication & Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 will require US$5.5 billion to be fully implemented, of which donors and other Global polio eradication partners have pledged over $4 billion.
At the Global Vaccine Summit held in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, global leaders expressed their confidence in the plan's ability to achieve a lasting polio-free world by 2018.
Sona Bari is a spokesperson for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
"This plan is made possible because of the progress in the last two years: India becoming polio free. It was the country that everyone considered the most difficult place to eradicate polio, and also progress in the three remaining endemic countries. We have to look at the historical picture of how many children were paralyzed by polio 25 years ago: 350,000 children at least. This year we have had 19 children paralyzed by polio. That’s an incredible success. However, with eradication we need to reach zero. So what we aim to do is to stop transmission of this virus in the next two years, then we need to continue conducting surveillance searching for polio everywhere in the world for three years, to make sure there is no polio; that the virus has been exterminated".
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. Polio can strike at any age, but it mainly affects children under five years old. There is no cure for the disease, but there are safe and effective vaccines.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva