UK to cut global polio fund by 95 percent

UK to cut global polio fund by 95 percent
2 min read
28 April, 2021
The decision to cut funding for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by 95 percent was revealed in a leaked memo.
Polio is still endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan [Anadolu Agency/Getty-file photo]

The UK will cut its funding for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by 95 percent, the development outlet Devex reported on Tuesday.

The programme was set to receive £100 million this year, but will now receive only £5 million to help it rid the planet of the devastating illness.

Moreover, Dexex said, the UK did not provide all the funds it pledged last year.

It only gave 70 percent of the full £100 million it initially committed to the Initiative, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control, among others, operate.

Read more: How the UK became an accomplice in Yemen's famine

Oxfam GB boss Danny Sriskandarajah said in a press release: "These cuts are… likely to delay the global eradication of polio when we are so close to achieving this landmark victory against a cruel disease."

RESULTS UK's Aaron Oxley, an anti-poverty charity, called the move "catastrophic".

Countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Global Polio Eradication Initiative carries out work, could be hit hard by the cuts.

According to the organisation, these are the last two nations where polio is still endemic.

The group also lists Egypt and Yemen as "Outbreak countries", meaning that, despite them defeating "indigenous wild poliovirus", they still face cases originating from other sources.

The decision to reduce polio funding comes amid a spate of other cuts to the UK's foreign aid.

On Wednesday, Sky News reported on a leaked memo drawn up for a British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister.

The message suggested bilateral contributions to "water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)" projects will be hit by cuts of over 80 percent in 2021.

Sky said overall WASH funding would fall by 64 percent to approximately £100m, despite the memo noting the FCDO foresees public anger due to the importance of what it calls "hand hygiene" to combatting Covid-19.

It also predicted outrage based on COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, being held in Britain this year.

"There is never a good time to cut aid for lifesaving water and sanitation but the middle of the worst pandemic for 100 years must be one of the worst," said Tim Wainwright, CEO of WaterAid.

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