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Health

A hat trick for polio eradication

Ramesh Ferris and Olivia Wilde at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival
Ramesh Ferris

This piece was contributed by Ramesh Ferris, a polio survivor and advocate


Being Canadian I’m fully aware of hockey language. In hockey, a hat trick is when one player on a team scores three goals within the game.  

On September 26th, 2015 I had the amazing honour of handing over 38,077 signatures from Global Citizens to the Prime Minister of Malta urging World Leaders to place polio eradication onto the agenda of CHOGM (A gathering of Heads of State from Commonwealth Countries which occurs every three years).

Malala and Ramesh.jpg
Malala with Ramesh

Not only did Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta warmly accept the petition to have polio eradication on the CHOGM agenda, he boisterously announced to over 60,000 cheering Global Citizens attending the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park that he was officially placing polio eradication onto the agenda of the 2015 CHOGM Agenda for November, 2015.

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta with Ramesh

Now if that wasn’t cool enough, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Battel, also announced a contribution of €500 000 to support the global polio eradication operations.

IMG_8377.jpgRamesh Ferris and Freida Pinto
Image: Ramesh Ferris

Oh and one last cool factor that officially makes this a hat trick for polio eradication: The World Health Organization (WHO) officially removed the country of Nigeria off the polio endemic list as they have gone just over one year without having a new case of the wild polio virus!

IMG_8439.jpgRamesh Ferris and Erin Heatherton
Image: Ramesh Ferris

Global Citizens your lack of inaction by accepting the call to action and signing the polio petition sent a strong message to World Leaders. That message is that there’s only one choice, and that choice is that World Leaders must continue to work together and support the World’s largest public-private health initiative in our history, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Ramesh Ferris and Bill GatesRamesh Ferris and Bill Gates
Image: Ramesh Ferris

The 2015 Global Citizen Festival was successful in delivering a clear message to Global Citizens and World Leaders that polio eradication is a matter of equity, with polio only continuing to exist in areas of the world where conflict or weak health systems stop parents from accessing polio vaccines for their children.

My fellow Global Citizens you were responsible for making these latest polio eradication announcements a reality. As a polio survivor I can’t thank you enough for demonstrating so much support to see the end of polio within our lifetime.

Ramesh Ferris and Erna SolbergRamesh Ferris and Erna Solberg
Image: Ramesh Ferris

Remember: our polio end game is not over!  We are in our final period of the game to end polio. Our work is not finished and we must stay determined, remain focused and not give up! Please ensure you are vaccinated and you’re choosing to have your children vaccinated. A case of polio anywhere in the world is a threat to children everywhere.

Game On!!