Polio survivor from Earl Soham backs Government’s investment in fight to eradicate disease

Polio sufferer Giles Large, from Earl Soham, right, with MP Dr Dan Poulter

Polio sufferer Giles Large, from Earl Soham, right, with MP Dr Dan Poulter - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk polio survivor has welcomed the Government’s pledge to contribute £100 million towards a global effort to eradicate the “horrific” disease for good.

Priti Patel made the annoucement: Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA WIRE

Priti Patel made the annoucement: Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

The cash, announced by Witham MP and International Development Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, will immunise 45 million children against the infection each year until 2020.

The last case of polio is likely to be announced in 2017 and there would then need to be three years without a single case to prove elimination.

Giles Large, from Earl Soham, near Framlingham, was eight weeks old when he caught polio when he was in North Borneo where his father was the chief of police.

He came home and was treated at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington before moving to Suffolk.

Mr Large, who belongs to the Suffolk Driving for the Disabled group, said: “I have struggled my whole adult life with the after-effects of childhood polio; it’s painful, debilitating and frustrating.

“I am very pleased that the UK Government is doing this, it’s not before time. Polio is a horrific disease and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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“After you’ve had polio you recover – not to the extent that I could open the batting for Lords or run 100 metres in 10 seconds – but then it tends to come back. In layman’s terms it comes back to get the bits of you it didn’t get the first time. It weakens all the muscles you have left.

“10 years ago I was able to walk 10-15 miles; now I struggle to walk 10 metres.

“Getting up, washed and dressed can take up to two hours. The sooner we can eradicate polio the better.”

Polio was wiped out in the UK in the 1980s and there are more than 100,000 British survivors today. Globally, the wild poliovirus still exists in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, with eight new cases this year.

Ms Patel said: “Polio has no place in the 21st Century. This devastating and highly infectious disease causes painful paralysis and is incurable – trapping the world’s poorest people in a cycle of grinding poverty.

“The UK has been at the forefront of fighting global health threats, including polio, and our last push towards eradication by 2020 will save 45 million children from contracting this disease.

“The world is closer than it ever has been to eradicating polio for good, but as long as just one case exists in the world, children everywhere are still at risk.

“Now it is time for others to step up, follow Britain’s lead and make polio history.”

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