Toward a polio-free world

    An Afghan boy being vaccinated for polio. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is set to push for the eradication of polio at a high-level event Thursday. Photo by: UNICEF Sverige

    After education, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is set to push for another key development issue at a high-level event Thursday (Sept. 27)  the eradication of polio.

    The event aims to draw the world’s attention to polio. While the viral disease has been eradicated in many countries, cases have been reported in four countries this year: 88 in Nigeria, 35 in Pakistan, 17 in Afghanistan and five in Chad.

    The event, titled, “Our Commitment to the Next Generation: The Legacy of a Polio Free World,” will be attended by world leaders, donors, representatives of development agencies and other polio advocates. Hosting organizations include the World Health Organization, the U.N. FoundationBill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Poverty Project.

    Ban hopes to galvanize long-term commitments to end polio at the high-level event, which will be followed by a concert in Central Park in New Yorkon Saturday(Sept. 29). The advocacy concert aims to secure financial commitments for the disease and mobilize thousands of people to end polio as well as extreme poverty.

    Event highlights

    World leaders at the U.N. general debate tackled development issues from ending poverty to addressing conflict. We highlight parts of their speeches and other events that transpired Wednesday (Sept. 26) at the 27th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

    • President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia: “Developing countries, like my own, must make globalization work if we are to achieve our growth targets and lift our people out of poverty.”

    • President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt: “I will not enumerate the previous commitments made in this hall to boost development and economic growth in Africa through aid and investments. The world has the responsibility to support Africa’s efforts, beyond mere promises.”

    • U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron: “We should never forget that for many in the world the closest relative of poverty is injustice.”

    • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda: “Human beings have acquired language and nurtured wisdom, but they have failed to resist temptation to solve conflicts by force even in modern times.”

    • Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard: “We cannot make poverty history until we also consign to history the argument that environmental protection and human development are conflicting global goals.”

    • President Joyce Banda of Malawi: “It is unacceptable to me as the President of Malawi, as it should be to the global community, thatwe have children continuing to suffer from malnutrition. Or that they yearn to learn, but have to sit under trees rather than proper classrooms.”

    • President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia: “If there is a country in our hemisphere that requires peacebuilding as a comprehensive task, it is Haiti.”

    • President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe: “[Africa] shall not be bought-off with empty promises, nor shall we accept some cosmetic tinkering of the Security Council disguised as reform.”

    • Bulgaria has approved 100,000 Bulgarian leva ($65,812) in humanitarian aid for Syrians, the food crisis in the Sahel and Palestinian refugees.

    • EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs identified “three pillars” for a “Decent Life for Everyone” at the meeting of the United Nation’s high-level panel on the post-2015 development goals: come up with an updated and modernized MDGs; create jobs, and guarantee justice and equity; and live sustainably.

    • Australia, Bangladesh, South Africa, East Timor and Denmark are among the countries that pledged to support U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Education First initiative, which was launched Wednesday. Western Union Foundation and MasterCard Foundation, meanwhile, pledged to provide education grants for economically disadvantaged students in Africa, according to a news release.

    • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the Malian crisis as not only humanitarian in nature at a meeting on the Sahel. “It is a powder keg that the international community cannot afford to ignore,” she said in a statement.

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.