The good news for this October 29th, 15 years ago, was word from The World Health Organization that the Polio Virus had been eradicated from the entire Western Pacific region. The virus, responsible for paralysis was eliminated in 37 countries from China to New Zealand. The World Health Organization began its campaign some 12 years earlier, hoping to emulate its earlier success against Smallpox. Hundreds of millions of children were inoculated in East Asia and the Pacific, with the help of governments and locally trained volunteers. In some cases, cease fires were arranged between warring groups so the inoculation program could be carried out. The end result was some 1.6 billion people; nearly a third of the worlds population, were now free of the virus. Until 1990, some 60,000 cases of Polio developed each year – there had been no confirmed case reported since 1997.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world spun quietly along. News that embattled Peruvian President Aldo Fujimori replaced his top generals in charge of the Armed Forces who were sympathetic to the opposition party. The move was seen as an attempt by Fujimori to show the Peruvian people who was in charge.
In Chile, former dictator Augusto Pinochet, who has returned from detention in London earlier in the year, was hospitalized for what was described as Pneumonia. The Santiago Court Of Appeals was due to meet later to hear a request from Pinochet’s lawyers that he be allowed to undergo medical tests to prove that his failing health would prevent him from standing trial.
In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was scheduled to meet with right wing leader of the opposition Likud Party, Ariel Sharon, as negotiations continued over forming a coalition government. Meanwhile, clashes in Gaza between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli Security forces continued. The government of Barak had lost its majority and was looking for a partner to stay in power. But a proposed alliance with the Likud Party would make a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians almost impossible to achieve.
A seizure of some $500 million worth of Heroin took place in Fiji earlier this day. The International Police operation concluded it had clear evidence that criminals were using islands in the region to smuggle drugs from Hong Kong and Southern China into North America and Australia.
And the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Paralympic Games were taking place in Sydney, Australia this day. The 11 day event drew big crowds with over 1 million tickets sold.
That’s just a small chunk of what went on in the world this October 29, 2000, via The BBC World Service World Briefing program.