Polio has been eliminated from the Americas, the Western Pacific Region and Europe.
While encouraging progress is being made in other regions, some recent setbacks and newly infected countries must not deter us from our original goal of total eradication.
These last remaining polio affected countries will require more aggressive support in the coming months. The very effective vaccination strategy of synchronized National Immunization Days needs to be intensified and high quality campaigns need to be assured in these more difficult countries.
More than ever, this is the time for all partners to pledge their utmost support. In this regard, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is continuing to scale-up its polio eradication efforts.
Focusing on its National Societies in the most affected countries, it is strengthening its collaboration with WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, CDC and the other polio eradication partners to ensure that 2005 will be the year when the last wild polio virus cases are reported. Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and its network of volunteers are working in WHO's priority polio countries.
Funding appeals in 2004 and again in 2005 enables these National Societies to lend their support through intense community mobilization. Community mobilisation is an integral element in successful immunization programs, and Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies take very seriously their capacity to play an important role in community level behaviour change.
We place special emphasis on effective communication to ensure maximum vaccination coverage in difficult population groups.
The presence of Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers in all these communities is vital to the successful achievement of eradication. Their work is conducted in partnership with the work of government agencies and others tasked with immunisation responsibilities.
This is a partnership which makes very clear the way the auxiliary relationship which National Societies enjoy with their public authorities in the humanitarian field is effective at all levels of government and administration, in every country.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is pledging its intensified efforts in this final assault on polio. In this way our children will grow up with dignity in a polio-free world and they will look back at us and claim that we were indeed good ancestors.