The Isle of Man is set to make a significant contribution to a campaign to rid the world of a debilitating and potentially fatal disease.
The International Development Committee of the Council of Ministers has agreed to provide £30,000 a year for the next three years to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Money will go to the Rotary Club of Douglas and onwards to Rotary International which is part of a public-private partnership involving national governments and spearheaded by the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.
The three-year commitment continues the Isle of Man’s new focus on establishing longer-term agreements to assist international aid projects in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Phil Gawne MHK, Chairman of the International Development Committee, said:
‘Global collaboration over the past 25 years has reduced polio cases by more than 99% and put the eradication of this disease within reach. Funding from the Isle of Man will have a direct impact on ensuring millions of children worldwide are vaccinated against polio. Extending our commitment over three years will add a degree of certainty to the organisations leading this initiative. I am aware that the provision of overseas aid continues to generate a lot of debate, particularly at a time when we are responding to challenges much closer to home. But the opportunity to help eradicate polio serves to reinforce the life-changing impact of international support.’
Although preventable, polio continues to affect people in some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world, typically children under the age of five. The Isle of Man’s commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative follows a proposal submitted through local resident Kristina Crawford who works for The Global Poverty Project in her capacity as Global Poverty Ambassador for the Island.
It also comes on the eve of next week’s (April 24-25) Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi when world leaders will learn about plans to stop the transmission of polio by the end of 2014. The Summit, which is being hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, will emphasise the importance of immunisation in achieving global health and development goals.
Minister Gawne said:
‘The Isle of Man remains fully committed to playing its part in efforts to create a more sustainable future for all the world’s citizens. We are continuing to make a genuine difference to people’s lives, and by channelling some of our resources into longer-term partnership agreements I believe we can make our funding work harder.’
The International Development Committee, which provided £10,500 to the Rotary Club of Douglas in 2012 to assist a polio vaccination programme, also has in place a three-year agreement to fund the Small Countries Financial Management Programme, while its support for subsistence fishermen in Sierra Leone was highlighted in the recent BBC2 show ‘Toughest Place To Be A Fisherman.’