Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have called on the leaders of countries where polio still exists to give full cooperation to the global effort to eradicate the disease by the end of this year.

"We are on the verge of an historic public health victory: the eradication of poliomyelitis, a disease that has caused untold suffering to millions of children," Gro Harlem Brundtland , WHO director-general and Carol Bellamy, UNICEF executive director, said in a letter to 30 heads of state in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia released recently.

The success of the drive to eliminate the disease now hinges on efforts under way in these 30 countries, many of which are affected by conflict or are reservoirs of the poliovirus.

Begun in 1988, the global initiative to eradicate polio by the end of this year is led by WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International. Brundtland and Bellamy urged heads of state to provide leadership for extra immunisation activities, allocate resources for national immunisation days and enable truces in areas of conflict.

At the launch of the 'Final Push for Polio' in New Delhi, which was attended by over 300 delegates including ambassadors, Brundtland said India -- which has 70 per cent of the world's remaining polio cases -- was key to successfully eradicating the disease worldwide. She also paid tribute to India's "phenomenal efforts" towards polio eradication.

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