Former Director-General of the World Health Organization, Former Prime Minister of Norway, and Member of the United Nations Foundation Board of Directors, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland provided the following statement to commemorate the second anniversary of polio elimination in India:
“This week marks an important milestone in the fight against a terrible disease—two years without any new cases of polio in India. As recently as 2010, India had the largest number of polio cases of any country in the world and was considered the most difficult place to eliminate the disease. Yet, through collaboration between the government of India, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, and with financial support from governments around the world, what once seemed impossible is now a reality.
This is an extraordinary achievement, but it is not enough. Three polio endemic countries remain, and while this is a historic low, anyone who is not vaccinated is at risk, and just one person can spread the disease to hundreds. We must recognize that we are as close to a dangerous resurgence as we are to eradicating polio.
National and local leaders in polio-affected countries must stay fully committed and accountable for stopping wild poliovirus transmission in their countries. Polio-free countries at risk must continue to immunize more than 430 million children each year to keep immunity rates high and avoid re-infection.
Our collective success in India proves that we can eradicate polio, even in the most challenging circumstances. Now we must keep up our momentum in order to end this disease. No child should be denied the chance at a healthy life when we have the knowledge and ability to protect them. I urge supporters to visit unfoundation.org to learn more and take action today.”
About the United Nations Foundation
The UN 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 is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas, and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems. We build partnerships, grow constituencies, mobilize resources and advocate policy changes to support the UN’s work for individual and global progress. The UN Foundation’s work – focused on select global problems – is decreasing child mortality, improving disaster relief, protecting diverse cultures and environments, creating a clean energy future, empowering women and girls, and improving U.S.-UN relations. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.