“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,” she wrote. "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.”
Farrow, who had polio as a child, carries the message that the world can learn from the experience of India and further strengthen the collective push for polio eradication – especially following outbreaks in countries that were once polio free, including Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The internationally acclaimed actor and humanitarian joined UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador in 2000. She continues to be a tireless advocate for the rights of the world’s most vulnerable children, especially those impacted by conflict and violence. This is Farrow’s 14th trip to Chad and her second trip to the DRC.