Nov 1, 2016

How Malta is working with Global Citizen to end Polio

CDC Global - Girl Receiving Oral Polio Vaccine 
CDC Global
Actions by global citizens put polio on the agenda of the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and led to 6 world leaders committing to finish the job of eradicating the disease forever by 2019 by renewing their support to polio eradication efforts.
The 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held in Malta, marked four years since the landmark commitment to polio eradication was made by world leaders at CHOGM 2011, highlighting the progress seen and calling on leaders to recommit the political and financial will necessary to bring us closer to the finish line. Indeed, CHOGM 2011 played a significant role in the story of polio within Australia’s aid program.
More than 250,000 actions were taken towards polio eradication by global citizens in 2015 aimed at making polio an agenda item. In the lead up to Global Citizen Festival, 66,268 emails were sent to leaders of Commonwealth countries asking them to eradicate polio for good, and more than 100,000 emails, tweets and phone calls were made asking PM Muscat of Malta (Current Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth), to put polio on the agenda.
This campaign ran at a critical time, with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) needing to raise an additional $1.5 billion to fill a shortfall identified after the reviewed progress against their endgame strategy to eradicate polio by 2019.
PM Muscat responded to our campaign, asking for a phone call after being “bullied to do the right thing” by global citizens, during which we invited him to attend the 2015 Global Citizen Festival. Backstage at the Festival he met with polio survivor and advocate Ramesh Ferris, who handed him a petition of 38,077 signatures from global citizens urging him to make the funding gap facing polio eradication efforts a key priority at the forthcoming CHOGM. From the stage of the Festival, Prime Minister Muscat then committed  to "seek a renewal in global commitment to end polio once and for all." For World Polio Day Prime Minister Muscat published 'Achieving a polio-free world' in The Guardian reiterating his commitment and explaining how, with additional funding from the global community, polio eradication could be one of the "greatest public health success stories in recent times." He then wrote to key Commonwealth governments asking them to come to CHOGM ready to recommit to the global effort to eradicate polio once and for all. Global Citizen supported this by getting our supporters to follow up in their own countries, asking their leaders to respond to PM Muscat’s call to action.
Muscat’s leadership did not disappoint. Despite resistance from some quarters, he succeeded in securing a new commitment from Commonwealth leaders to accelerate action and renew financial support to eradicate polio once and for all. In delivering on his commitment at the festival, he told Michael Sheldrick, Director of Global Policy and Advocacy: “We have kept to our word. I believe with the support of fellow leaders we will manage to eradicate polio.”
Such a commitment, affirmed in a condensed Leaders’ Statement and announced at a press conference held on the margins of CHOGM featuring Muscat and several other leaders including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, could not have come at a more critical time for the funding of the global eradication program. The renewed commitment at CHOGM 2015 represents a key step towards securing additional funding, enabling the program to react to new challenges with equal speed and ensuring the polio infrastructure benefits other health programs in the long-term.

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