New Australian support for polio eradication
SAT 29 OCTOBER 2011
Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced new funding to help eradicate polio—a debilitating disease that continues to strike the world’s most vulnerable people, especially children.
Australia will provide $50 million over four years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to help purchase vaccines, monitor outbreaks, and respond when and where needed.
The Prime Minister said Australia’s support will help take the final steps to achieve worldwide polio eradication.
Ms Gillard was joined in Perth today by United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani while at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to make the announcement.
Bill Gates joined the leaders via video to announce a new $40 million USD contribution to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative on behalf of the Gates Foundation and in support of the Commonwealth commitments.
Significant global progress has been made over the past two decades to reduce the number of polio cases by 99 per cent since the GPEI was launched in 1988.
Polio remains endemic in only four countries, three of which are members of the Commonwealth – India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
The Prime Minister applauded the leadership shown by India, Nigeria, and Pakistan in their ongoing efforts to eradicate polio.
We welcome global progress and encourage Commonwealth members to remain committed to overcome the final hurdles in polio eradication.
The importance of strong partnerships between affected countries, donors and organisations like the Gates Foundation, Rotary International and the Global Poverty Project, in achieving eradication must also be recognised.
The work of the Gates Foundation and Rotary International has been vital, including the personal contribution of many Australians to this cause such as Sir Clem Renouf, who in the 1970s, as Rotary President led the international campaign to vaccinate every child against polio.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments in partnership with the World Health Organisation, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations Children’s Fund, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Australia's contribution to polio eradication is part of our broader commitment to saving the lives of children and women in developing countries and our $1.6 billion commitment to maternal and child health over the five years to 2015. Increasing routine immunisation around the world has helped reduce the number of child deaths from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010.