November 20, 2008 07:00 ET

Canada Celebrates UN Universal Children's Day

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2008) - The Honourable Beverly Oda, Minister of International Cooperation today marked the United Nations Universal Children's Day by highlighting Canada's contribution towards improving the welfare of children in Afghanistan.

"Canada's Polio Eradication Signature Project is making it possible to see the immunization of an estimated seven million children," said Minister Oda. "They are the future of Afghanistan and deserve to be free of this crippling, but preventable disease."

Canada has been the lead supporter of the upcoming Sub-National Immunization Days in Afghanistan -a door-to-door campaign to vaccinate children under the age of five. The next round of vaccinations (November 23-25, 2008) will focus on southern provinces including Kandahar, which has the highest rate of polio infection.

"Our goal is to reach every child. I have great hope that wild polio virus will be eradicated from Afghanistan since communities across the country continue to demonstrate tremendous commitment to protecting their children against polio during immunization campaigns," said Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan.

The World Health Organization's representative in Afghanistan, Peter Graaff, noted that a strengthened surveillance system and strong commitment from more than 50,000 vaccinators and health workers have largely contributed to ensure no child in areas accessible is missed out during campaigns. "I am very pleased with this development. Incredible efforts in the face of many challenges have led us to a point where polio could soon be stamped out from Afghanistan, "said Mr. Graaff.

Canada is the largest international donor towards polio eradication in Afghanistan. Working closely with the Government of Afghanistan, the World Health Organization and UNICEF, Canada hopes to completely eliminate polio in Afghanistan by 2009.

For more information and to download a podcast on Canada's Polio Eradication Signature Project, visit Additional information on polio eradication in Afghanistan and globally is available at

High-resolution photos of Afghan children receiving polio vaccinations are available for publication. Image previews are available at and requests for publication-suitable files should be directed to

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Michelle Coates
    Press Secretary
    Canadian International Development Agency
    Media Relations Office