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Commentary available - Canada and the fight to protect all children from polio: Successes and challenges to eradication by 2018

2014-04-04

OTTAWA, April 3, 2014 – A year after Canada pledged CA$250 million to eradicate polio by 2018 UNICEF’s Head of Polio, Peter Crowley will be in Ottawa available to comment on Canada’s sustained leadership supporting eradication efforts to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.

Canada’s unwavering support for polio eradication has delivered huge gains for children’s health globally. Over the last 30 years polio cases have decreased 99%. Earlier this year India, once judged the most difficult place in the world to eliminate polio, was certified polio free.

However because polio has never been stopped in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan polio is still circulating and vulnerable children around the world remain at risk. In Syria, Iraq and Somalia conflict has prevented some children from receiving routine vaccinations and the polio virus is still infecting and crippling children.  In other countries low routine vaccination rates mean the virus is once again spreading. Polio virus invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative – a partnership between countries, UNICEF, World Health Organization, Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation  and others – knows how to reach eradication by 2018. UNICEF’s priorities include speeding up outbreak response, tailoring operations to meet the needs and attitudes of specific communities, improving security analysis to access the hardest to reach children and ensuring vaccine supplies continue to meet global demand. 

Peter Crowley is the Head of Polio at UNICEF Headquarters in New York. Prior to his current post Mr. Crowley served as UNICEF Country Representative in Afghanistan and South Sudan and oversaw the implementation of polio programmes in both countries.

Who: UNICEF Head of Polio, Peter Crowley

What: A year after Canada’s CA$250 million commitment at the World Vaccine Summit to eradicating polio, expert analysis and commentary by UNICEF’s Head of Polio on Canadian leadership and successes and the importance of eradicating polio.

Where: Available for interviews in Ottawa (other parts of Canada over phone or skype).

When: Monday April 7 and Tuesday April 8, 2014.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

 

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.