Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) certified its South-East Asia Region as polio-free, a major milestone in the global effort to eradicate polio. This certification includes India, which had long been considered one of the hardest places to eliminate polio.
The polio news comes on the heels of last week’s announcement from the WHO Western Pacific Region that four countries and areas have eliminated measles: Australia, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, and Macao (China). They represent the first countries to receive this distinction in the region.
United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin highlighted the progress made against polio and measles, while calling for continued work to finish the job, saying:
“These achievements show that progress is possible when the world marshals political will and commits adequate resources to causes that affect us all. Partnerships such as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the Measles & Rubella Initiative, and the GAVI Alliance show that when governments, the United Nations and its agencies, and other non-governmental organizations come together, we can protect millions of children from these devastating diseases. And efforts to end polio continue to provide the infrastructure needed to make progress on eliminating measles and combating other diseases covered by routine immunization.
But even a quick glance through the news illustrates the stubborn persistence of these diseases. Polio has broken out in previously polio-free countries in the Middle East and Africa. Measles outbreaks are happening around the world, from New York City to New Zealand to South Sudan. Despite all of our gains, approximately 330 people still die each day from measles.
As we recognize countries and regions making important progress in the fight to end vaccine-preventable diseases, we must also recognize the challenges that remain and the dedication required to overcome them. The UN Foundation will continue to support the UN and its agencies, including WHO and UNICEF, and work with partners in this critical fight. We urge governments and donors around the world to join efforts to provide vaccines to children everywhere, giving them a chance to live free from the threat of these terrible diseases that have caused too much suffering and death for far too long.
Future generations can and should live in a world free of polio and measles. Working together, we can achieve this goal.”
About The United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.