The United Nations Foundation today welcomed Romania’s announcement that it was joining the Global Polio Eradication Initiativewith its first grant that will provide polio vaccinations for 40,000 children. Romania is the 20th European Union Member State to sponsor a grant toward the Initiative, and the United Kingdom will match one-fifth of the gift, reaching an additional 8,000 children.
“We congratulate Romania on its commitment to helping achieve a polio-free world,” said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the UN Foundation. “Support from our European Union partners will help us bridge the current funding gap and achieve more in the fight against polio.”
Polio is a disease that mainly affects children under five years of age and is known to cause lifelong paralysis and potentially fatal infections. Polio cannot be cured, but it can be prevented with a safe and effective oral vaccine that costs only $.50 to deliver to a child. As a result of international efforts by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to immunize every child, the vast majority of the world is now polio-free. In 2011, polio remains endemic in only four countries—Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, more than 20 countries are affected by the spread of the wild poliovirus and are still carrying out extensive vaccinations.
Adrian Vierita, the Ambassador of Romania to the United States, said, “Romania is proud to be a part of this worthwhile initiative and looks forward to witnessing the lasting impacts of this partnership.”
Romania joins five other new European Union partners who, with the UN Foundation, are building support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, bringing the EU and its Member States’ total contributions to the Initiative to $1.78 billion. The Foundation is currently working with government leaders from Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia to provide additional help with polio eradication efforts.
Polio was endemic in more than half the world’s countries and the highly infectious disease paralyzed thousands of children every year less than a century ago. Fortunately, an effective vaccine was introduced in the 1950s and 1960s, but in 1988 an estimated 350,000 polio cases remained. Since the Initiative’s launch that same year, polio cases have decreased by over 99%, and in 2010 fewer than 1,350 cases were reported globally. The WHO and UNICEF believe it is possible to interrupt the spread of the wild poliovirus throughout the world by 2013.
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through campaigns and partnerships, the organization connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The campaigns reduce child mortality, empower women and girls, create a new energy future, secure peace and human rights, and promote technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.