Statement from Minister Paradis: World Polio Day

October 24, 2013

World Polio Day is an opportunity for our Government, and countries around the world, to reiterate our commitment to eradicating polio from every village, in every country in every corner of the globe.

In 1988, the year the goal of polio eradication was set by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, polio was paralyzing 350,000 children in 125 countries every year. Thanks to efforts deployed by Canada and its partners, in 2012 that number was reduced to 223 cases worldwide. That is a 99‑percent decrease in two decades and, in the last year alone, cases have fallen by an additional 40 percent in the three countries where the disease still remains endemic—Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

The finish line is in sight, but recent outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and possibly in war-torn Syria are stark reminders that we cannot let our guard down. We must remain committed, we must ensure health care workers have safe access to the communities that need their help, and we must condemn those who seek to disrupt our progress.

The eradication of polio is on target, thanks to an unrelenting global effort—an effort in which Canada was at the forefront as the first country to donate to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Canada has been, and remains, a staunch ally in the global effort to immunize millions of children against the disease. In 2011, Prime Minister Harper reaffirmed Canada’s support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, while at this year’s Global Vaccine Summit Canada pledged $250 million over six years to polio eradication efforts.

Nobody should ever have to suffer from a disease for which a simple cure exists. Our Government will continue to support science-based decisions that will finally put an end to polio. We are proud to work with other governments, multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations and private foundations to make that happen.

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie