September 26, 2012 | By Bill Gates
Day 1 at the UN: Good Friends from Around the World
For me, Wednesday afternoon at the UN General Assembly was a great chance to catch up with some of our allies from all over who are working on the frontlines of global health and development.
More polio meetings this afternoon. With so many people in town, it’s a terrific opportunity to get to meet some of our partners in person. I got time to catch up with Amina Mohammed of Nigeria who was recently appointed by Ban Ki-moon to work on the Millennium Development Goals and development planning that will succeed them. Amina worked on the MDGs in Nigeria, which was how I first met her. She also was one of the speakers I invited to speak at TED in 2011 when I was curator of a session. The MDGs have been a fantastic, stand-out success in focusing the world’s attention and resources on the problems of the poor. We’re far from achieving all the goals, but it’s encouraging to have someone of Amina’s independence and energy working on them - and the goals that will succeed them.
As it happens, I met with another one of the people I invited to speak at that TED session. Bruce Aylward from the World Health Organization spoke about polio at TED two years ago, and is still at work on the WHO’s efforts to end this disease. His boss, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, also joined me with Tony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF, and Tom Frieden who heads up the Centers for Disease Control. We were also joined by some of the senior leaders from Rotary International, whose efforts to end polio have been remarkable. We met to discuss strategy around going after those last – difficult – places where polio remains, and the best possible approaches that would allow us to vanquish polio once and for all. Their commitment to attacking this problem left me encouraged – though no one in that room was under any illusion that it’s going to be easy.
I spent some time with Sandro Rosell, the President of FC Barcelona and the FC Barcelona Foundation. They have been tremendous partners in using their club and its worldwide fan base to raise awareness of polio with their “More than a Goal” campaign. We recorded a short video together talking about the foundation’s partnership with them to work toward saving children’s lives around the world.
I’m now heading out to a dinner to meet with senior leadership from the Islamic Development Bank. Tomorrow at the Secretary-General’s polio event, we will be announcing their support for polio eradication efforts. Their financial support will make a big difference. But in addition, the support and commitment of so prominent an Islamic institution will be of great help to our efforts in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Today was kind of the warm up. Looking forward to tomorrow and the main event.