A world that may have once seemed unimaginable is within reach – a polio-free world, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging leaders gathered in Malta for the Commonwealth Summit to build on the momentum that has been generated in recent years and join the United Nations in making “the final push to wipe out polio forever.”
“Polio struck down many of my generation. Now we are on the verge of striking down polio,” Mr. Ban told participants, including senior Government officials and polio survivors at an event on the margins of the Commonwealth Summit, which opened yesterday in Valletta, the capital of the island nation.
Recalling his recent visit to Nigeria, the Secretary-General told the gathering that has been witnessing the progress himself, and that indeed, for the first time in history, Nigeria and the African continent reported a full year without one case of polio.
“These and other achievements are testaments to the power of global partnership and concerted leadership. They are a tribute to millions of dedicated health workers on the frontlines,” said the UN chief, while warning: “We must stay vigilant.”
He went out outline what he sees as at least three keys to achieving a polio-free world: the full engagement of all sectors of society, including religious and traditional leaders, youth and women's groups and other partners such as Rotary International; ensuring that in areas of conflict and insecurity, that warring parties must allow safe passage for health workers to access and vaccinate children; and the commitment of the global community to fill the funding gaps and keep this promise to the world's children.
“We know when children are protected from polio, they are better protected against all diseases,” he emphasized, thanking all the Commonwealth leaders here for their resolve. “Together, let us make the final push – and wipe out polio forever. With your support, I know we will succeed,” he concluded.