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International Community Must Organize, Commit Financial Resources To Win War On Polio

In this editorial in the International Herald Tribune’s “Express Tribune,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon examines the global push to eradicate polio, highlighting progress in the “world’s war on polio” since it was declared nearly a quarter century ago but warning that “we are in danger of falling victim to our own success,” as “the world is now populated by a generation which has either never been exposed to polio or has been inadequately vaccinated.” However, “[w]ith a determined push, the international community can wipe out polio once and for all,” Ban continues, adding, “To do so, … it must organize and commit the required financial resources.” Ban highlights two upcoming meetings — the G8 summit at Camp David this week, and a meeting of World Health Assembly in Geneva the following week — as opportunities for world leaders to push for polio eradication on the international agenda.

“The United Nations, with its partner Rotary International, is driving the global campaign,” he writes, adding, “Efforts to eradicate polio are under way in the three remaining polio-endemic countries” — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Ban details some of these efforts, highlights the financial deficit being faced by those working on the ground, and writes, “If the international community recognizes the stakes and musters the resources, we can win the war against polio forever.” He concludes, “If we invest $2 billion now, we can save the world an estimated $40 billion to $50 billion in the cost of treatment by 2035, not to mention many lives and many young futures. … I appeal to all leaders, everywhere, to act now to protect future generations. By funding the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan for the next two years, we can make the threat of polio a distant and fading memory” (5/17).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.