21 through 30

21 Providing safe drinking water

During the first UN decade on water (1981-1990), more than a billion people gained access to safe drinking water for the first time in their lives. By 2002, another 1.1 billion people had clean water. In 2003, the International Year of Freshwater raised awareness of the importance of protecting this precious resource. The second international water decade (2005-2015) aims to reduce by half the number of people without a source of clean drinking water.

22 Responding to HIV/AIDS

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) coordinates global action against an epidemic that affects some 33 million people. It works in more than 80 countries to provide universal access to HIV prevention and treatment services, as well as to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities and alleviate the impact of the epidemic. UNAIDS brings together the expertise of its 10 co-sponsoring UN organizations.

23 Eradicating smallpox

A 13-year effort by the World Health Organization (WHO) resulted in smallpox being declared officially eradicated from the planet in 1980. The eradication has saved an estimated $1 billion a year in vaccination and monitoring, almost three times the cost of eliminating the scourge itself.

24 Wiping out polio

Poliomyelitis has been eliminated from all but four countries — Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan — as a result of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the largest international public health effort to date. Thanks to the Initiative, spearheaded by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 5 million children are walking who would otherwise have been paralyzed by polio. A disease that once crippled children in 125 countries is on the verge of being eradicated.

25 Fighting neglected tropical diseases

A World Health Organization programme eliminated river blindness (onchocerciasis) in 10 West African countries while opening up 25 million hectares of fertile land to farming. Today, the disease is being controlled in 19 more countries under the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. In 1991, efforts by UN agencies in North Africa led to the elimination of the dreaded screw worm, a parasite that feeds on human and animal flesh. Guinea-worm disease (dracunculiasis) is on the verge of being eradicated, while other neglected diseases, such as leprosy — which has been eliminated in 116 out of 122 endemic countries — lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis) are now under control.

26 Halting the spread of epidemics

The World Health Organization helped to stop the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In March 2003, it issued a global alert and emergency travel advisory, and its leadership helped to stop this new disease, which had the potential to become a worldwide epidemic. WHO investigates over 200 disease outbreaks each year, 15 to 20 of which require an international response. Some of the more prominent diseases for which WHO is leading the global response include meningitis, yellow fever, cholera and influenza.

27 Pressing for universal immunization

Immunization saves more than 2 million lives every year. As a result of efforts by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, other organizations and Governments, an estimated 79 per cent of the world's children are now vaccinated with the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine, up from 20 per cent in 1980. Between 2000 and 2006, measles deaths in Africa declined by 91 per cent, with a two-thirds reduction globally. Barriers to introducing new vaccines are gradually being overcome, and contacts forged through immunization are being used to provide additional life-saving assistance, such as insecticide-treated nets to protect against malaria and vitamin A supplements to prevent malnutrition.

28 Reducing child mortality

In 1990, 1 out of 10 children died before they were five years old. Through oral rehydration therapy, clear water and sanitation and other health and nutrition measures undertaken by
UN agencies, child mortality rates in developing countries had dropped to less than 1 in 12 by 2006. The goal is now to reduce the 1990 under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015.

29 Laying the groundwork for business

The United Nations is good for business. It has provided the “soft infrastructure” for the global economy by negotiating universally accepted technical standards in such diverse areas as statistics, trade law, customs procedures, intellectual property, aviation, shipping and telecommunications, facilitating economic activity and reducing transaction costs. It has laid the groundwork for investment in developing economies by promoting stability and good governance, battling corruption and urging sound economic policies and business-friendly legislation.

30 Supporting industry in developing countries

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has served as a “matchmaker” for North-South and South-South industrial cooperation, promoting entrepreneurship, investment, technology transfer and cost-effective and sustainable industrial development. It has helped countries to manage the process of globalization smoothly and reduce poverty.