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Ban Ki-Moon Calls On Governments To Eradicate Polio

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday at the Rotary International (RI) Annual Convention in Birmingham, U.K., said that governments worldwide should continue to work towards eradicating polio, BBC reports. Ban said polio is endemic in four countries – down from 125 countries in 1985 when RI launched its campaign, which has so far raised $250 million to eradicate the disease – BBC writes.

“Now is the time to finish the job, I call on all governments around the world to help us,” Ban said. He noted that he has written to political and religious leaders in the four polio-endemic countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan – to request that they “protect their children and stop the virus wherever it survives.”

He said the world finds itself at “a crossroads” during this “time of global economic downturn.” Ban added, “We face multiple crises. We can either cut back on health expenditures and incur massive losses in lives and capacity for growth, or we can invest in health and spare both people and economies the high cost of inaction.” According to Ban, “The choice should be clear” (BBC, 6/21).

As a result of RI’s efforts, more than two billion children have been immunized against polio and about five million children were prevented from contracting the disease, Ban said (U.N. News Service, 6/21). At the convention, Ban received RI’s Polio Eradication Champion Award (Rotary International News, 6/21). More than 2,000 RI delegates are attending the convention, which runs through June 24 (Thorne, Birmingham Post, 6/22).