|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Polio Eradication Must Be Treated as Public Health Emergency, Secretary-General
Stresses, Hailing Angola’s Efforts at Launch of Vaccination Campaign
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Polio Vaccination Campaign Health Post in Luanda, Angola, on 27 February:
It my pleasure and honour to join you today to launch the first National Immunization Campaign against Polio in Angola this year.
Angola has set a remarkable example on polio. Even when this country was struggling to emerge from conflict and rebuild, it gave priority to protecting children from polio. I am especially grateful to the people in communities who made progress possible — the dedicated health workers and volunteers — as well as mothers and fathers who made sure that Angola’s children were vaccinated.
The result was a polio-free country in 2001. But within four years, the virus had returned. That is why it is so important to continue campaigns such as the one we are here to launch today. We have to keep tracking the situation so we can respond quickly to any signs of re-infection.
We have to immunize every child against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases. We have to do everything possible to reach every Angolan child, with the help of their parents. And we have to improve the water supply and create a clean environment and strong surveillance system to quickly detect any polio case.
Polio eradication must be treated as a public health emergency. Angola understands this. You are making sure that the water is clean and the health facilities are strong. Your efforts toward eradication are right on track.
The Government covered almost 90 per cent of the costs of the campaign. I commend President José Eduardo dos Santos for this financing and for his personal commitment to this cause. I also thank the many Angolan leaders who directly supported the campaign.
We see the results. Fewer children are being paralysed in fewer places. Many provinces have gone more than a year without a single case. The vaccine is easy to administer. Even I have done it.
Today, 7 million people around the world can walk thanks to the global anti-polio campaign. In the future, generations of Angolans will thank you for tackling this disease. Today, we are giving children the chance to be free of polio.
Every Angolan child should know the saying: A estrelinha Kuia como o sambapito; quem não tomar a vacina vai ficar aleijado. [“The little star is as good as a sweet; those who do not take the vaccine will be disabled.”]
* *** *