In Angola, UN chief launches annual polio eradication drive

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon administers polio medicine to a baby at a healthcare centre in Viana district, Angola in February 2012. UN Photo/E. Schneider

27 February 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today launched a national polio vaccination campaign in Angola, where the crippling disease has returned despite being eradicated in 2001, and praised the Government for its leadership on the issue.

Angola provides a large majority of the funding needed to vaccinate the country’s children. “I am deeply grateful to President [Jose Eduardo] dos Santos his personal commitment to this cause,” Mr. Ban told community members participating in the launch in Viana, near the capital city of Luanda.

Angola had eradicated polio in 2001, but the disease returned within the following four years.

The Secretary-General said this showed the importance of responding to any new cases and immunizing every child against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Polio eradication must be treated as a public health emergency,” said Mr. Ban, stressing the need to also keep track of the situation, improve the water supply, and a create a clean environment and strong surveillance system.

He stressed that all Angolans, “health workers, volunteers, mothers and fathers,” have to play their part to rid the country of polio.

“In the future, generations will thank you for your work today,” he said.

The Secretary-General also helped administer vaccine drops to some children. “The vaccine is so easy to administer, even I have done it,” he said.

Also today, Mr. Ban held meetings with the President, the Foreign Minister and civil society, discussing, among other issues, how to strengthen the partnership between the UN and Angola.

He commended the authorities for progress on the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and encouraged them to push even harder, and to work toward a more equitable distribution of wealth.


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