(Image courtesy of Global Polio Eradication Initiative)

Media Release – Wednesday, November 20, 2019

AUSTRALIA A CONTRIBUTOR BUT NOT A LEADER ON  POLIO ERADICATION

Australia’s pledge of an additional $15 million for polio eradication activities at today’s pledging event in Abu Dhabi for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)  is welcome but is a missed opportunity for Australia to play a leading role in ending this disease, according to RESULTS International Australia.

“The pledge by Australia shows that Australia is continuing its support for polio prevention through to the expected time of its eradication in 2023.  Nevertheless, the Australian pledge of $15 million is a reduction in Australia’s share of the GPEI’s overall funding compared with the Australian share of contributions since 2011,” said RESULTS International Australia CEO, Amelia Christie.

The GPEI requested $25 million from Australia.

The GPEI was seeking $US 3.27 billion in additional funding from 2019 to 2023 to complete the task of polio eradication and raised $US 2.6 billion during a pledging event at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi overnight.  This includes a pledge of £400 million ($A 750 million) the UK Government had announced in advance.  Contributors to GPEI, including Australia, will need to identify resources to meet the remainder of the GPEI’s target to achieve polio eradication within a few years.

“Given the opportunity to end a disease and improve health systems, and the strong support by Australian Parliamentarians for polio eradication, Australia could reinforce its role as one of the leaders on polio eradication by adding to our pledge,”  Ms Christie said.

The GPEI was formed in 1988. The reduction in the number of people infected by the poliovirus each year since 1989 by 99.97% from 350,000 to 100 shows the success of the sustained efforts by national governments and international donors to eliminate the disease.  The costs of containing the polio outbreak in Papua New Guinea last year remind us of the potential of the disease to re-emerge if vaccination rates ease off, and the benefits of sustaining support until we eradicate polio everywhere.

With the funding that Australia and other contributors are providing, and the commitment of the countries where polio still occurs, the GPEI will be able to support vaccination of 450 million children, going a long way towards ensuring polio is eradicated within four years.  “Eradicating polio will bring huge benefits from people no longer suffering from this disease and allowing for health resources to be allocated to meet other vital health goals,”  Ms Christie said.

For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Amelia Christie
CEO RESULTS Australia
Phone: 0490 391 278