UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow has travelled to Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to visit UNICEF's life-saving work for children, and to promote efforts to wipe out polio.
16 February 2012 – from Moundou, near the border with the Central African Republic.
In the year 2000, my 10-year-old son Thaddeus sat in his wheelchair beside then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and together they pushed a button beginning the countdown and the global effort to eradicate polio by the year 2005.
Mia gives a boy a dose of oral polio vaccine at an immunisation site in Moundou, Chad. © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0063/Olivier Asselin
Thaddeus was born in India and is paraplegic as a result of polio. At that time, there were thousands of cases of polio there.
Now, India has been polio free for one year. Thaddeus cheered at that news. “But what about the kids in the rest of the world?” he asked.
I told Thaddeus that polio still exists in some 14 countries – but in relatively small numbers. Chad - with 132 cases last year - is second only to Pakistan.
Now UNICEF and its partners are engaged in what is hopefully the final surge to eliminate the disease from the face of the earth.
The challenge here in Chad is to convince all parents that the vaccine is safe and to reach every child, even in the most remote places.
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Mia Farrow is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador