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News note

Global Polio Eradication Initiative intensifies its activities

NEW YORK, 17 July 2009 – UNICEF convened a meeting of partners today to review progress in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in the context of accelerating its response to the intensified polio eradication activities planned for 2010 to 2013.

The meeting which was attended by Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, discussed the achievement of “the last final inch”, which is the most difficult.

There are four remaining polio endemic countries—Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan—and a number of re-infected countries primarily in Africa. Challenges to polio eradication include insecurity in Afghanistan and Pakistan, identifying the remaining unreached children in the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Behar, and improving service delivery.

The partnership will work to address these issues through more participatory methods that give ownership to local communities, and will improve capacity with the expansion of polio workers to these areas to augment local efforts.

The GPEI had initially set the year 2000 as a target date for global eradication. But due to setbacks and the spread of poliovirus to previously polio free countries, eradication was not achieved. New tools and tactics are constantly being developed to attain this hard fought goal.

UNICEF presented an overview of its role in the partnership and outlined how the organization would complement the work of other partners, articulating its vision and commitment to the initiative. The forum allowed UNICEF and its partners to provide feedback and updates on their work in polio eradication.

Participants in the meeting included representatives from the other spearheading partners, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary International, and from key donors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID and the UN Foundation.

The GPEI is the largest public health initiative in history and has achieved over a 99 per cent reduction of polio cases since its inception in 1988 when the World Health Assembly adopted eradication as a global health goal. As a spearheading partner, UNICEF has the lead role in vaccine supply, logistics and communication.


Related UNICEF and partner web site links:

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Brian Hansford, UNICEF Media NY,
Tel + 1 212 326 7269,
E-mail: bhansford@unicef.org




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