As a child, I was lucky enough to have been one of the first generations in the UK to benefit from the National Health Service’s polio vaccination programme. The programme was so effective that since 1984 no new cases of polio have been reported as originating from the UK. I think children everywhere deserve the same opportunities.
That is why I have launched a written declaration (WD), which calls for the European Commission to continue and increase its commitment to reducing the number of vaccine preventable deaths in its future work.
In order for this to succeed 377 of my fellow MEPs need to signed the written declaration, and it will become the official position of the Parliament. It is therefore similar to an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, but this is stronger because it secures a Parliamentary position.
Britain has been some of the most generous donors in the area of vaccines and immunisation. I was proud of the work of the last Labour government in massively increasing the aid budget, and have been involved in campaigns such as Jubilee 2000 all my political life. Other European countries have a great record in this area too, although some could do better.
If my Written Declaration is successful, organisations such as UNICEF and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) will be able to channel aid into programmes and projects that increase vaccination coverage for children all over the world.
Globally since the late 1980s, there has been a 99% fall in the number of reported cases of polio. I was very pleased to hear yesterday that India has officially been removed from the World Health Organisation’s list of polio endemic countries after being polio-free for a year.
However, despite the progress that has been made in increasing vaccination coverage around the world, it is estimated that 1.7 million children continue to die of vaccine preventable diseases like polio each year.
I am pleased that the written declaration is jointly signed by 4 of my fellow Parliamentary colleagues from across the political spectrum. I will be writing about them, and the campaign to secure signatories for the written declaration regularly.
If, dear reader, you can request your MEP to sign written declaration 4/2012 to secure aid and immunisation I would be very grateful. Thank you.