Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has called for an intensification of the global campaign to eradicate polio.
During an event hosted by the Ministry of International Cooperation and Development at the UN General Assembly in New York, Dr Gargash said the world must work together to combat the disease.
“It is deeply regrettable that polio, so close to eradication, is now afflicting the most vulnerable children in areas of armed conflict and poverty,” the minister said in his opening address.
“As well as being a debilitating and sometimes lethal disease targeting the younger generations, polio has far reaching consequences for whole communities.
“The eradication of polio is, therefore, not an end in itself, but a means to supporting greater development and well-being more generally.”
“The end of polio is within our reach. Success now depends on a handful of countries,” said the director general of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan. “We urgently need the active support and direct oversight of the leaders of Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.
“We must re-double our efforts to deliver a polio-free Africa this year, and help Pakistan to get back on track to stop transmission by the end of 2015.
“The alternative is to face the potential consequences of a new polio pandemic that could disable hundreds of thousands of children within a decade.”
The call was supported by Chris Elias, the president of the Global Development Programme, who spoke on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“To eradicate polio we need both leadership at the highest levels of government within Pakistan and support from the global community,” he said. “This is not a disease that can be fought alone and the UAE’s persistence and innovation in Pakistan exemplifies how countries can partner and work together to wipe the deadly disease off the face of the Earth.”