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UNICEF hosts panel discussion on challenges to polio eradication

NEW YORK, 2 December 2009 - UNICEF today hosted a panel discussion to address current initiatives and remaining challenges in the fight to eradicate polio. The event, entitled "Joining Forces to Eradicate Polio," was sponsored by the United States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The gathering served to launch a collaboration between the US Government and the OIC in the fight against polio, and followed an announcement by US President Barack Obama in Cairo in June 2009.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman delivered opening remarks and welcomed U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations Ambassador Frederick D. Barton, and Ambassador to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations in New York Abdul Wahab.

Dr. William Foege, Senior Fellow at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, moderated the panel, which included Dr. Bruce Aylward, Director of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) at the World Health Organization (WHO) and Mr. Jim Lacy, Chair of Rotary International’s Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force for the United States.

WHO and Rotary, together with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF, are the spearheading partners of the GPEI. The GPEI is the largest public health initiative in history and has achieved more than a 99 per cent reduction in 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.

UNICEF video and high-resolution photography for media organizations is available at: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef

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 additional information, please contact: 
Christian Moen, UNICEF Media NY, Tel + 1 212 326 7516 , E-mail: cmoen@unicef.org





2 December 2009:

James Lacy of Rotary International’s Polio Eradication task Force addresses the panel.
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Dr. Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization gauges progress made in polio eradication efforts in the remaining endemic countries.
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