DFID commits £100m to tackle Polio

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The announcement on Friday, August 4, by the Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel of £100m of funding in a bid to eradicate Polio by 2020 has been welcomed by The British Polio Fellowship.

The national charity has a close relationship with Rotary and others campaigning to see more done to eradicate Polio and has been supporting calls for the government to back eradication efforts in this way.

While the announcement from the Department for International Development (DFID) marks a success for the campaign, The British Polio Fellowship sees this as one part of the battle to beat Polio. While eradication remains a priority, 120,000 people in the UK live with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) and they continue to face up to eight year waits for diagnosis and struggle to access the treatments and benefits they are entitled to.

“On behalf of The British Polio Fellowship, I want to congratulate the DFID on this move and treating Polio with the seriousness it deserves,” said CEO of The British Polio Fellowship, Ted Hill, MBE. “Outbreaks in Syria and elsewhere remind us how hard Polio is to beat and this funding could be the difference between life and death. Yet in tackling the overall picture, we must not lose sight of those living with PPS; which must never become the forgotten footnote of Polio.”

The new funding, to be administered through the World Health Organisation (WHO) comes following an open letter written at the end of July, in which, Ted Hill called on the government to “support the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and recognise the severe risk this and other outbreaks potentially present.”

While delighted his call has been heeded, the hope is to now see PPS tackled in tandem ahead of this year’s PPS Day on November 2, when buildings throughout the country will be lit in British Polio colours as the charity launches this year’s campaign from the Scottish Parliament.

“Events in the battle with Polio both here and overseas appear to be finally turning in our favour and it feels like the national campaign on PPS and the international one on Polio itself have real momentum this year,” added Ted. “It takes courage to do the right thing and financially back the eradication initiative, when so many are feeling the pinch at home. The government now needs to take the next step and do more for those with PPS – and addressing the recently announced hike in electricity prices would be a great place to start.”

PPS is characterised by new muscle weakness, breathing problems and cold intolerance, which is why each year, the British Polio Fellowship runs a Winter Warmth appeal, to support those living with Polio and PPS who are unable to afford their heating bills. The British Polio Fellowship provides support and information for its members along with others in the UK who live with the late effects of Polio and PPS. To find out more about The British Polio Fellowship and to learn about the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome, visit www.britishpolio.org.uk