September 26, 2012 | By Bill Gates
Day 1 at the UN: Talking Health and Development
As the United Nations General Assembly convenes in New York this week, I’ve been asked to come and speak about the need for nations around the world to recommit to eradicating polio. Here are some notes from my first day at the UN.
UN Week is a crazy time in New York. Getting around can be tough with increased security, various protesters, and heads of state and other important visitors coming and going. But as I wrote yesterday, it’s also an incredible opportunity to see people, and to discuss issues of real importance to the world.
I got a chance to spend some time with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this morning. He’s about the busiest guy in New York this week, so it was super nice of him to make the time. We got to talk about polio, and the important meeting he’s hosting tomorrow, which is the main reason I’m here. Having his voice continue to make the case for why we need to end this disease in the few places it remains is so important. As Secretary General, he’s called out five of the world’s major "killers" he wants to see eliminated during his second five-year term. Polio is on that list, along with malaria, pediatric HIV infections, maternal and neonatal tetanus, and measles.
In the morning I had the chance to meet the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, who was sworn into office just last week. I was really happy to get to meet him because Melinda and I both had a great working relationship with his predecessor, Meles Zenawi, who died in August of this year. It was a great loss for Ethiopia, and for Africa and the world. But I was impressed with the new Prime Minister, not only for his thoughtfulness and knowledge about the issues we work on as a foundation in Ethiopia, but also for his commitment to continuing the policies of Prime Minister Zenawi, which have made real progress in helping the people of Ethiopia. Some of the foundation’s most exciting projects are happening in Ethiopia, particularly our partnership with the government in improving agricultural output for small farmers. I was in Ethiopia earlier this year, and I told the Prime Minister I looked forward to getting back there sometime in the future.