24 April 2013
Secretary-General
SG/SM/14976

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

No Greater Gift than Healthy Start in Life, Secretary-General Says, But Millions


of Children Denied Right to Healthy Future Because They Lack Simple Vaccination


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, as delivered by Roberto Valent, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Belize, on a World Vaccination Week Event in that country organized by the Pan American Health Organization, 24 April:


I am pleased to send greetings to all those participating in commemorations of World Vaccination Week, a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the need to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles and tetanus.


Immunization is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to safeguard young lives.  There is no greater gift than a healthy start in life.  We can celebrate the fact that 80 per cent of all children — more than at any time in history — are immunized.  They are living and thriving.  At the same time, we grieve for the millions who are still left behind simply because they live in poor, under-served, conflict-ridden or isolated communities.


We have reached four out of five children worldwide.  Now it is time to reach that fifth child wherever he or she may be.  We must break down all barriers that stand in our way.


The global success in fighting polio shows how far we can advance.  We have achieved great progress through an international alliance of partners, including the United Nations, other international organizations, Governments, health workers, civil society and the private sector.  Together, we opened a window of opportunity to end polio forever.


We know that when we join forces, lifesaving vaccines and primary health care can be delivered to those who desperately need them.  But millions of children are being denied their right to a healthy future because they lack a simple vaccination.


The world will come together to address this problem at a global summit in Abu Dhabi this week dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to the full benefits of vaccines.  I urge all participants to use this opportunity to take a bold step forward for global public health.


World Vaccination Week is a chance for everyone to support this goal.  Let us pledge to summon the will and resources needed to safeguard all children through vaccines.  This will also protect our common future.


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For information media • not an official record