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Provisional Agenda
Race to Reach the Last Child:
Countdown to a Polio-Free World

New: Summit outcomes

Outcomes of the recent Global Polio Partners Summit include the Pledge and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan.

See also the Statements page for photos and audio files of participants' statements.

About the Summit

Copyright © Omega

Photo: Participants at the recent Polio Partners Summit stand in front of a clock created specifically for the polio eradication effort. Moments after this photo was taken, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Thaddeus Farrow, who had polio, activated the clock to begin its countdown to 2005.

On 27 September 2000, 150 leaders from the public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations gathered at the United Nations at the first Global Polio Partners Summit to pledge their support and commitment to completely eradicate polio from the world. This is the final phase of a campaign that began in 1988 with the formation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public/private partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), with support from national governments, private foundations such as the United Nations Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, development banks, donor governments, corporations and individuals.

Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, great progress has been made. At the end of 1999, there were approximately 7,000 reported cases of polio and 20,000 estimated cases compared with an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988.

Copyright © UNICEF/HQ97-1166/Giacomo Pirozzi

Photo: A girl toddler held by her mother receives a dose of oral polio vaccine, during an National Immunization Days (NID) campaign in Nairobi, Kenya.

Purpose of the Summit

The purpose of the summit was to re-focus attention on the final plans to eradicate and certify the world polio-free by 2005, and gather momentum and worldwide support. To that end, summit speakers focused on the three main challenges to certifying the world polio-free by 2005:

  • accessing children in all countries especially in conflict-ridden areas;
  • generating the necessary funds;
  • ensuring the political commitment to accomplish full eradication.

If these three challenges are addressed, polio will be the second disease ever completely eliminated from the world, after smallpox. There are still 30 remaining polio-infected countries.


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan gave the keynote address. Other participants included Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, Ms Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr Frank Devlyn, President of Rotary International, Dr Donna Shalala, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Ms Mia Farrow, UNICEF Special Representative, and Mr Ted Turner, Chair, UN Foundation and Vice Chair, Time-Warner, Inc.

(See Statements for photos and audio files of participants at the Summit. See Biographies of Participants for more information on each speaker.)

The race to reach every child ensures that all children are protected from the scourge of polio. The five-year countdown to certify the world polio free has begun. We need your help to succeed.

Next: Pledge



Video Q&A with
Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow, actress and UNICEF Special Representative, discusses her involvement in polio eradication efforts and why the issue is of special importance to her. Ms. Farrow spoke of her personal experience with the disease at the Global Polio Partners Summit.

A world-renowned actress, Mia Farrow has appeared in such notable films as Rosemary's Baby, The Great Gatsby, Hannah and Her Sisters and Alice.

Ms. Farrow has devoted much of her time to humanitarian causes, and is especially dedicated to charities supporting children. Her humanitarian work has taken her to Africa where she visited Botswana and South Africa. In 1997 and 1998 while in South Africa, she travelled with Nelson Mandela to support the work of The Nelson Mandela Foundation for children.

In December 1998, Ms. Farrow and her family participated in celebrations at the UN to mark the 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. In 1999, she joined UNICEF in launching the Progress of Nations report, which measures the world's progress toward the health and well-being of all children.

She recently published a memoir of her life entitled What Falls Away.

Questions: (click for Mia's answer--you will need the RealPlayer software to view these videos)

1. Why did you want to get involved in the effort to eradicate polio? (1.2 MB)

2. Is a polio-free world a reality? (490 KB)

3. Why is it so important to eradicate polio? (680 KB)