Mr Chairman, distinguished members of the Executive Board, non-board members, Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
At 5:45 a.m. last Friday morning, I received a message from Michel Zaffran, my colleague who is the director of polio eradication, informing me of the shocking news that two polio workers, a mother and daughter, had been shot dead in Pakistan.
It was the first message of the day, very early in the morning.
I was deeply saddened, and I couldn’t believe the text message I was reading from my colleague.
It is an outrage that a mother and her 16-year-old daughter could be murdered while trying to protect the health of children. It’s really saddening, and as I said, an outrage.
Unfortunately, it is not only them. In the first three quarters of last year, 44 health workers were killed while doing their jobs, trying to save and protect the lives of others.
This will not derail us from eradicating polio, or from the services we give to save lives. It will only strengthen our resolve to fight even harder.
Please stand with me for a minute’s silence as we honour their sacrifice.