Australia commits $75.5 million to end polio

The Australian government recently announced that it plans to commit $75.5 million over the course of four years to support the 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan between 2015 and 2018.

Rotary International announced the commitment on Thursday and commended Australian Rotarians for advocating the support of the government for polio eradication. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr praised the leadership shown by Rotary International, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 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," the Australian government said. "As a result of these early efforts by Rotary, the global community came together in 1988 to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative."

Between 2011 and 2014, the Australian government committed $47.2 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The polio endgame plan will cost approximately $5.5 billion. Philanthropists and governments pledged $4 billion so far.

In 2012, the world experienced an all-time low of 223 polio cases. The fully funded plan would keep immunization levels high to prevent a resurgence of the paralyzing disease.

Since the GPEI began, Rotary helped to secure more than $9 billion from donor governments.

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