Last updated October 3, 2023
Written by: Nico D’Auterive, Global Health Senior Communications & Advocacy Officer, United Nations Foundation
On September 23, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took the stage in New York City’s Central Park with polio survivor and vaccines advocate Safia Ibrahim and Recycle to End Polio Project Ambassador Exile Tetsuya at the Global Citizen Festival.
“This week was a historic week for health at the UN General Assembly. Countries made major commitments to develop a new global agreement on pandemics, to end tuberculosis, and to make progress toward Universal Health Coverage,” Dr. Tedros began.
Later he stated, “WHO is committed to the health of every person, and that includes the job of eradicating polio once and for all.”
A similar message prevailed during the Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) earlier in the week, where world leaders approved a political declaration reiterating their commitment to addressing the health needs of all people. As noted in the declaration, this includes through efforts to sustain and expand upon achievements related to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, such as polio.
The declaration also highlights improved immunization capacity, particularly for children, as a way to scale UHC efforts in practice, including for vaccine-preventable diseases already eliminated as well as for ongoing eradication efforts, such as for polio. It also reiterates the mission of Immunization Agenda 2030, which envisions a world where everyone, everywhere, at every age, fully benefits from vaccines for good health and well-being.
At the Global Citizen Festival, Safia, who became partially paralyzed after contracting polio as an infant in Somalia, followed Dr. Tedros. “I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone,” she said. “And using my voice at the Global Citizen [Festival], I call on world leaders to commit $1.5 billion in funding needed for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative [GPEI] to end it by 2026.”
Three days later, the GPEI launched the Make Polio History campaign, asking people to speak out in support of polio eradication and tell donors, polio-affected country governments, and other global partners that eradication is possible and urgently needed now.
The campaign website lays out 3 small actions you can take to help end polio.
Record a video in the language of your choice. Say what you think one of the biggest wins has been in the history of humanity. Then, call for another historic win by ending polio. A script and submission instructions are available here.
Below you can view examples of videos submitted by the UN Foundation’s staff and partners.
Share your video, the campaigns images, or your own thoughts on ending polio on social media using the #MakePolioHistory and #EndPolio hashtags.
Here’s a suggested post:
I’ve joined the #MakePolioHistory campaign to show the world that polio eradication is possible and needed. Now raise your voice too and be a part of another historic win for humanity: https://makepoliohistory.org/ #EndPolio
Launched in October 2022, the Scientific Declaration on Polio Eradication sends a powerful message from experts around the world about the urgent need to end polio everywhere. Scientists, clinicians, and public health experts are asked to join the movement by signing the declaration.
We urge you to check out the Make Polio History campaign and lend a hand however you can. As Safia told the Global Citizen Festival audience, “Together we can accomplish great things with even the smallest actions. So, help us put an end to polio once and for all.”
Nico D’Auterive is a Senior Global Health Communications & Advocacy Officer at the UN Foundation. Prior to joining UN Foundation, Nico oversaw global, national, and local communications campaigns in the US and abroad with various NGOs, including Doctor’s Without Borders (MSF) and FXB International. She has worked in Haiti, Ukraine, Nigeria, and Colombia. Nico holds a master’s in international development and global health from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo) and an undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Columbia University.
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