Global Luminaries Unite to Issue Urgent Call for a Polio-Free World
NEW YORK, September 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
New and Existing Donors Underscore Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to End Polio Forever
In a display of solidarity, leaders from around the world today vowed to capitalize on progress achieved this year and to step up the fight to eradicate polio. Heads of state from Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan stood alongside donor government officials and new donors from the public and private sector to outline what is needed to stamp out this disease forever: long-term commitment of resources; application of innovative best practices; and continued leadership and accountability at all levels of government in the endemic countries.
"This decisive moment is a matter of health and justice. Every child should have the right to start life with equal protection from this disease. That's why I have made eradicating polio a top priority for my second term as Secretary-General," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Polio is a vaccine-preventable disease that is more than 99 per cent eliminated from the world. Today, there are the fewest number of polio cases in the fewest districts in the fewest countries than at any time in history.
For more information about the UN high-level event "Our Commitment to the Next Generation: The Legacy of a Polio-free World" please visit: http://www.polioeradication.org
"The evidence is clear: if we all do our part, we can and will end this disease. But we must act quickly and give ourselves the very best chance to succeed," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the leading donors to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). "When we defeat polio, it will motivate us to aim for other great health and development milestones."
"Failure to eradicate polio is unforgiveable, forever. Failure is not an option. No single one of us can bring this long, hard drive over the last hurdle. But together we can," said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation.
"Together we can make history by eradicating polio - thanks mostly to the heroes in the field who risk their lives, every day, to deliver vaccines to children in some of the most dangerous parts of the world," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.
"Governments need to step up and honor their commitments to polio eradication if we are to achieve a polio-free world," said Wilfrid Wilkinson, Chair of Rotary Foundation Trustees. "We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world's children."
"We have been given the unique opportunity to end polio and provide a lasting legacy for the world's children," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Together we must strive to achieve this important global milestone."
The Islamic Development Bank, a new donor to the polio eradication effort, announced a three-year $227 million financing package to Pakistan and a $3 million grant for polio eradication activities in Afghanistan.
Notes for editors:
The UN High Level event will be live-streamed, 12:30-1:30 EDT, on http://webtv.un.org/.
Photos and video of the event will be available at http://www.rotary.org/mediacenter.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), launched in 1988, is spearheaded by national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since its launch, the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 percent. In 1988, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed each year in more than 125 endemic countries. In 2012, 145 new cases have been reported, and only three countries remain endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
SOURCE Global Polio Eradication Initiative