Tue, Apr 30, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Dream of a polio-free world close to being a reality

By Desmond Tutu

The summit, which is being held in Abu Dhabi, builds on a commitment last year by nearly 200 countries to eradicate polio, develop new and improved vaccines at affordable prices, and deliver them to every child by 2020.

Ending polio will be a key milestone on the path to realizing this vision and the summit has provided a clear plan to get there by 2018 — a strategy that complements other efforts to raise immunization coverage for diseases such as measles, pneumonia and rotavirus. Strengthening routine immunization will protect our gains against polio and enable us to reach the most vulnerable children in the hardest-to-reach and most underpriviliged communities.

Having grown up in a country where nearly one in four children infected with polio died from the disease, my heart soars when I imagine a world in which all families have access to lifesaving vaccines, freeing them from the burden of preventable death and disease. Now we need funds, commitment and the resolve to implement the plan presented in Abu Dhabi.

When it comes to the health of our children, there must be no distance between rich and poor, and no distinctions among communities. Following through on polio eradication by extending the reach of vaccines to all children who need them is an opportunity for all of us to stand together on behalf of our global community. We must do it, and when we succeed, it will be a triumph for humanity.

Desmond Tutu is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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