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World Leaders Unite Behind Global Polio Eradication Efforts At U.N. General Assembly

Political leaders, donor representatives, and medical experts on Thursday met on the sidelines of the 67th U.N. General Assembly session “to celebrate [polio eradication] efforts that have already reduced the incidence of the crippling and potentially fatal disease by 99 percent around the globe,” the U.N. News Centre reports (9/27). “Saying a decisive moment has arrived in the quest to eradicate polio, world leaders vowed … to embrace a new approach that includes long-term funding commitments, greater accountability and a specific focus on the three countries where the crippling disease remains endemic,” the Globe and Mail writes (Picard, 9/27). “[E]verything hinges on stopping polio in a few districts in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said during an address at the event, the U.N. News Centre adds (9/27). Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “who is helping spearhead a global campaign to eradicate polio, said Thursday he hopes that by 2015 no child in the world will be paralyzed by the disease and by 2018 polio will be wiped out,” the Associated Press writes (Lederer, 9/27).

“[S]ome new funding sources were announced, including another $75 million from Rotary International (which is on top of the $1.2 billion that they have provided to date) and a new Gates-backed financing scheme from the Islamic Development Bank, which is offering a $227 million financing package to Pakistan to underwrite most of the country’s polio vaccination campaign costs and a $3 million grant to Afghanistan,” the U.N. Dispatch notes. “These contributions underscore the confidence that donors have in the leadership of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria to follow through with the very public commitments they made at the United Nations today,” the news service states (Goldberg, 9/27). In a separate article, the Globe and Mail interviews Gates about global efforts to eradicate the disease (Picard, 9/27). Reuters examines how “fear and suspicion” are hampering efforts to eliminate polio in Pakistan (Kelland/Ahmad, 9/27).