Peace Corps Announces Expanded Polio Eradication Efforts
September 27, 2000Director Mark Schneider Addresses the United Nations Global Polio Partners Summit
Washington, D.C., September 27, 2000 - Peace Corps Director Mark L. Schneider announced that the Peace Corps will increase efforts to help achieve the World Health Organization's goal of eradicating polio in nearly half of the remaining 30 polio-endemic countries by 2005. Schneider made this announcement when he addressed the United Nations Summit of Global Polio Partners held today in New York City.
"The remaining presence of polio in 30 countries in 1999 demonstrates the need to reenergize our commitment to surveillance, monitoring and community participation in effective immunization programs," said Schneider. "This is why I am pleased to announce today that Peace Corps volunteers will expand our collaboration in polio-endemic countries with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Center for Disease Control, Rotary International, and other organizations that are leading the polio-eradication effort until the goal of global eradication is achieved."
Peace Corps volunteers currently are in 14 of the 30 countries with endemic polio identified by the World Health Organization in 1999. These countries include: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, the Gambia, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
As part of the Peace Corps' expanded polio eradication efforts, volunteers in these countries will coordinate activities for National Immunization Days, encourage people in their communities to have children immunized against polio, develop appropriate health information about polio immunization, and help local offices of ministries of health and local government organizations to develop and manage polio eradication plans. Twenty percent of all Peace Corps volunteers, approximately 1,400 volunteers, are working in health projects around the world.
Schneider joined Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, along with other health, humanitarian and business leaders at this historic summit in a final countdown to reach a polio-free world by 2005. Other speakers included Carol Bellamy, a former director of the Peace Corps and executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund, Ted Turner, chair of the UN Foundation and vice chairman of Time-Warner, Inc., Donna Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services, Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organization, Frank Devlyn, president of Rotary International, and Mia Farrow, UNICEF special representative.
Currently, there are more than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 76 countries around the world working to help fight hunger, bring clean water to communities, teach children, start new businesses and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Since 1961, more than 161,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and have served in 134 countries worldwide.