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Company : OMEGA 
Thursday, October 5, 2000 2:58PM IST (9:28AM GMT)
Omega makes time for the global Polio Eradication Initiative
New York, United States

OMEGA, world-renowned Swiss watchmaker, donated a special countdown clock to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Presented at the Global Polio Partners Summit, which took place at the United Nations on September 27, 2000, the clock was specially designed to count down the number of polio cases until 2005, the year that the Initiative hopes to certify the world as polio-free. OMEGA's involvement in this special project was in support of the efforts of their star ambassador, Martina Hingis, who was also recently named as the World Health Organization's (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for Polio Eradication.

OMEGA was called upon by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to offer its expertise in precision watchmaking and timing to design this highly specialised timepiece. The countdown clock, which stands 11.5 feet high and 6.5 feet wide, will create a visible impact of the decrease in polio cases with its unique construction and function. While celebrating the excellence of OMEGA timekeeping, the rest of the world will be also able to share in the progress of the eradication of this paralysing disease.

The OMEGA polio countdown clock, which will stand prominently outside the United Nations' Main Auditorium for the next 5 years, will display the countdown in seconds until 2005, as well as the current number of polio cases, which will be updated every month. The number of cases in the previous year will also be displayed on the countdown clock in order to show the project's progress. Finally, in 2005, the original number of polio cases (350,000) from 1988 will be displayed as well as a current indication of remaining cases of the disease, which is projected to be 0!

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, launched in 1988, is spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In 1988, polio existed in over 125 countries on five continents, but by the end of 1999, the number of polio infected countries decreased to 30. Polio had been eliminated from 95 countries and another three continents. Reported cases of polio had fallen to 7,094, and with the eradication of polio and the eventual cessation of polio immunisation, the world will save US$1.5 billion per year.

Through her "Match Point Against Polio" campaign, Martina Hingis has helped raise awareness and funds to eradicate this crippling disease and OMEGA is proud to support its star ambassador's latest endeavour. As top world tennis seed, Hingis is playing an important role in the global effort to certify the world as polio-free by 2005. Her enthusiasm, determination and commitment as a champion are the qualities that will undoubtedly help the effort to eradicate polio. Her leadership will promote polio eradication and encourage public support and involvement.

For over 150 years, OMEGA watches have been recording some of the most significant moments in history from man's first steps on the Moon to world records set at over 21 Olympic Games. But for every joyous second, minute and hour that their watches mark, time continues to tick on the ongoing crisis of polio and its paralysing effects faced by many of the world's children.

As this year's Global Polio Partners Summit sets out to put an end to the devastating disease, OMEGA is proud to be there to record yet another significant moment in history.

OMEGA International Public Relations, Bienne, Switzerland
Tel. +41 32 343 9211 Fax +41 32 343 9715
E-mail: public.relations@omega.ch
Internet: http://www.omegawatches.com

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