Eradication of polio near, thanks to Canadian support

Global initiative playing a major role in reducing incidence of once-rampant disease

Volunteers such as these B.C. Rotary Club members have helped reduce the incidence of polio worldwide, as has Canada’s contributions to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Black Press file photo

I recently read a statistic on polio that made my heart beat a little faster: in 1998, 40 children per hour worldwide were being infected by polio.

By 2016, that number was reduced to 40 children per year. Is that not astonishing? It would seem that it is within our grasp to eradicate this incurable, but preventable disease. This has only happened once before when in 1980, smallpox was declared eradicated.

The success behind the reduction in polio infections is due in large part to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which was established 30 years ago. I am proud to know that Canada has pledged $100 million to the GPEI, as this is a worthwhile investment. Since its establishment, it has generated net benefits of $27 billion US from reduced health care costs. Complete eradication would result in additional net benefits to the globe of $19 to 25 billion US over the next 20 years.

This is a step in the right direction for Canada. Not sure that ‘we’re back,’ but perhaps we are on our way.

Connie Lebeau

Victoria

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