Donors pledged $2.6 billion Tuesday to eradicate polio worldwide.The World Health Organization said the funding will be used to immunize 450 million children each year, bringing the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) closer to achieving a world free of polio.The WHO certified last month that the second of three types of polio had been eradicated.Cases have been cut by 99 percent over the last three decades, but the type 1 polio virus is still endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Polio attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours.Although polio cannot be cured, it can be prevented by vaccination.WHO said the $2.6 billion pledge will fund the GPEI’s “endgame strategy” through 2023, nearly $700,000 short of what is needed to fully implement the initiative.Donors made their pledges at a Reaching the Last Mile polio conference in Dubai.Nearly half of the pledged donations came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other pledges came from the governments of Britain, the United States and Pakistan, and the charity Rotary International.

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