U.S. and Russia team up to fight polio

On Thursday, the U.S. government and the Russian Federation Government signed a Protocol of Intent on Cooperation for the Global Eradication of Polio in an effort to counteract the recent polio outbreaks in Central Asia and Russia.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation were all involved in the signing.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, HHS Director of Global Health Affairs Nils Daulaire and Russian Deputy Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova signed the Protocol of Intent to increase cooperation for the eradication of polio while they were in Geneva, Switzerland, to attend other meetings.

"I am excited by the potentially huge impact that we can have when combining our countries' respective talent and expertise to overcome our world's development challenges," Shah said.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative was founded in 1988. Along with its government and public and private sector partnerships, it has successfully achieved a 99 percent reduction in polio. Recent years have seen outbreaks in Central Asia with new cases reported in Russia. The disease mainly affects children under five years of age and is highly infectious. It can lead to irreversible paralysis and death.

"The global eradication of polio is a public health priority for HHS and USAID and for their international partners, including Russia," Daulaire said. "Ridding the world of this preventable disease will dramatically reduce the global burden of disability and death from polio, especially among the world's children. We are pleased to have this opportunity to strengthen our partnership with our Russian colleagues to work towards a world without polio."

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