At a time when UK development aid is subject to so much criticism, it was wonderful to see cross-party support for a World Polio Day event in Trafalgar Square last week that pitted parliamentarians and the GB wheelchair basketball team against each other. The One Last Push campaign, of which RESULTS UK is a key partner, organised the match with the support of the British paralympian Ade Adepitan to highlight that we have made enormous progress towards eradicating polio, but the game’s not over yet. More than 15 parliamentarians competed in the match and were treated to a training session from Ade who showed them the ropes and demonstrated that for a non-contact sport, wheelchair basketball involves a not insubstantial amount of contact.
All of our parliamentarians survived the experience (almost) entirely unscathed although there were unsubstantiated accusations of some players being more dirty than others. We would like to thank all of the parliamentarians that took part, not just for playing in the match but also for taking the time to record messages of support, both before, during and after the game. Check out the video below to see the game in action and hear messages from some of the MPs that took part.
There has never been a better time to eradicate polio. With just 12 cases this year, the world is on the verge of one of the greatest feats of human history and we are proud that the UK has been at the forefront of that work: its recent pledge will immunise up to 45 million children against the disease each year until 2020, saving more than 65,000 children from paralysis every year.
But we cannot forget that the remaining 3 endemic countries face enormous challenges if polio is to become eradicated and importantly, to remain eradicated. It is perhaps no surprise that those 3 countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan have been plagued by conflict for years and that reaching children with immunisations has been difficult to achieve. Yet, the polio programme is managing to reach almost everyone and we just need that one final push to ensure that every child, no matter where they happen to have been born, can grow up without fear of being paralysed by this vaccine-preventable disease.