UN Foundation chief Senator Tim Wirth pens an op-ed on the lasting value and utility of the United Nations:
After traveling in Africa over the past few days, it’ s clear that the need and impact of the United Nations are greater than ever. As I write from Kumasi, a small town in Ghana in West Africa, I am still thinking about the children I met in a local hospital earlier this week. Three baby girls in particular haven’t left my mind. There were three newborns named Jamilla, Selina, and Issaha who were sharing one crib because there weren’t enough beds. All three were battling infections due to complicated births.
Luckily, Jamilla, Selina, and Issaha have a good chance at surviving thanks to the work of the UN and its partners. It’s not easy work. But it’s vital, and the UN is the one international organization with the reach and the mandate to partner with countries to get it done. The UN is working with the government of Ghana to provide immunizations and treatment to keep children safe. While on my trip, I talked with community health workers who are being trained to distribute life-saving measles vaccines to more than four million children across the country. The logistics of their efforts to reach children in remote villages is daunting, but each is committed to ensuring every child has the opportunity to lead a healthy life.
When I return to the U.S. in a few days, I’m confident I won’ t see stories like Jamilla, Selina, and Issaha’s in the news. Instead, I anticipate I will turn on the TV and be inundated with news about the upcoming elections and the fierce fights between the politicians running for office. When people talk about the UN, they are more likely to talk about the political realities of what happens when hundreds of countries are forced to make things work at headquarters in New York. Politics get the headlines, but the headlines are missing a major global story as the UN turns 65 today.