Addis Ababa, 24 October 2016: Today, as the world commemorates World Polio Day, we, the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International, in collaboration with other stakeholders and partners, reaffirm our commitment to eradicate the polio virus once and for all from Ethiopia.
This year’s World Polio Day is about the birth of a vaccine against the polio virus and a celebration of 30 arduous years of Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) journey. The Day also comes during a critical phase for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with 99.9 per cent polio cases reduction since 1985.
In Ethiopia, it has been nearly three years since the wild polio virus transmission has been interrupted. However, the recent outbreak in Nigeria shows us that we need to be more vigilant and well prepared for a robust and rapid response to children and communities especially in high risk, inaccessible and insecure areas.
The success and the gains made in the polio eradication efforts would not have been possible without the strong leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and the unprecedented support of stakeholders – WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, NGOs, communities as well as donors including USAID, CDC, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others.
Dr. Tadesse Alemu National PolioPlus Committee Chairman, Member African PolioPlus Committee reminds: “For 17 years we have done it greatly in Polio Eradication Initiative and I urge donors, partners, allies and health workers to increase the gains. I am confident that we will continue our effort together without fatigue. We must have strong push to ENDPOLIONOW and root out polio once and for all.
H.E. Dr. Kebede Worku State Minister of Health conveys in his message “Let’s flash back and remember with pride, the children we have saved from the crippling disease, polio; the strategies set, the activities implemented and the lessons learnt. What a gratifying element do we need to overcome our PEI fatigue? We don’t have a point of return but head on towards polio free world.”
“The World Health Organization will continue its support to the Ethiopian government to reassure the successful completion of ending polio and strengthen the sensitivity of the disease surveillance system to maintain gains beyond polio eradication,” said Dr Kalu Akpaka, Representative for WHO Ethiopia Country Office.
“UNICEF is highly committed to polio eradication efforts through its leading role in vaccine procurement, communication and social mobilization as well as its support to routine immunization. We will not stop until all children everywhere are consistently and routinely immunized against polio, the threat is real and obstacles remain on the road to zero cases. We must not let down our guard; we have to continue until there is not a single unvaccinated child,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia.
As we commemorate World Polio Day this year alongside the 711st anniversary of the United Nations, we reflect upon the contribution of the polio eradication efforts to themes of development and human rights while we also envision further contributions to healthy generations and a brighter future. While celebrating the achievements made thus far, we re-commit to maximize our efforts as polio partners to bring a more significant contribution to the polio eradication efforts.
Even more ambitiously, we envision the polio eradication legacy as a contribution to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for equitable health and development for all children and communities. The possibilities are endless; the successes are at our fingertips. While we celebrate the remarkable progress to date and recognize the need to maintain this momentum, we understand the need to accelerate our efforts to work together for a polio-free Ethiopia. Yes- we will not stop until the job is done!