Britain in push to help global eradication of polio by 2020

LONDON—The last-ever case in the world of polio is expected to be diagnosed this year, paving the way for the potential killer disease to be officially eradicated in 2020, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) said. DfID said British aid would be used to immunize 45 million children against polio each year until 2020 in a last push to eradicate the disease, equivalent to 80 children being immunised every minute. Polio was wiped out in Britain in the 1980s and there are more than 100,000 British survivors today. Globally, the poliovirus still exists in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, with eight new cases this year.
“It is likely that the last new case of polio will be diagnosed this year, paving the way for the world to be certified polio-free in 2020,” said DfID. “Britain has had a long standing commitment to making polio, the second human disease in history, to be eradicated, after smallpox.” The end of polio will help save around 2.6 billion U.S. dollars globally by 2035, as health care systems are freed up from treating polio victims, says DfID. Britain’s international development secretary Priti Patel, said: “The world is closer than it ever has been to eradicating polio for good, but as long as just one case exists in the world, children everywhere are still at risk.” British paralympian Ade Adepitan, who contracted polio as a baby, said: “The number of people around the world contracting polio has gone from thousands every year to just a few cases. We can see the finish line – and we can’t stop now. We are so close to eradicating polio. We need just one last push to make this disease history.”—Xinhua

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