Australia commits AU$80 million for polio endgame plan, cites Rotary’s role

The Australian government is providing AU$80 million over four years in support of the 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan. The commitment is from 2015 to 2018.

The contribution follows a $50 million commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) from 2011 to 2014.

Australian Rotarians have been instrumental in advocating their government's support for polio eradication. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr applauded the leadership shown by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Rotary International on polio.

"It was Australia's Sir Clem Renouf who, as President of Rotary International in 1978 and 1979, led the international campaign to vaccinate every child against polio," stated a government press release. "As a result of these early efforts by Rotary, the global community came together in 1988 to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative."

The endgame plan will cost US$5.5 billion. Governments and philanthropists have pledged $4 billion. Although an all-time low 223 polio cases occurred in 2012, full funding of the plan is needed to ensure high immunization levels. If polio rebounds, more than 200,000 children worldwide could be paralyzed each year within a decade.

One of Rotary's chief responsibilities in the worldwide effort is advocacy. In addition to contributing more than US$1.2 billion to the GPEI, Rotary has helped secure over $9 billion from donor governments since the initiative began.

"We're working to ensure that the poliovirus will be found only in history books and not in children," says Rotary's International PolioPlus Committee Chair Robert Scott. "A recent example for which we are very grateful is the support announced by Australia which will help us achieve this goal."

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