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A man and a child in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. Trevor Cole via Unsplash.
Health

Australia Allocates Funding to Fight Escalating Polio Outbreak in Papua New Guinea


Why Global Citizens Should Care
We have made leaps and bounds in the last decade when it comes to ensuring every last child around the world has access to lifesaving vaccines and medicines. Thanks to these global united efforts, we are now on the brink of eradicating the devastating disease of polio once and for all. You can take action to ensure polio is totally eradicated by telling leaders worldwide to prioritise public health and sanitation here.

Australia has announced it will provide funding to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to help tackle the escalating vaccine-derived polio outbreak in Papua New Guinea.

The $6 million was declared by Foreign Minister Marise Payne after findings showed Papua New Guinea, Australia’s closest neighbour, was struggling to contain the spread of infectious disease. Papua New Guinea experienced its first singular case of vaccine-derived polio in 18 years back in June. A nationwide outbreak proceeded in the months following, with 19 cases of the diseases now reported and a national public health emergency announced.

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"The Australian Government will provide a further $6 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to support the Government of Papua New Guinea to respond to the current polio outbreak,” Payne announced in a statement. “Papua New Guinea is our closest neighbour, and a strong response is needed to protect both Papua New Guinea’s and Australia’s health security. Australia’s contribution to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative will support the delivery of Papua New Guinea’s polio response plan.”

Mass nationwide vaccination rounds are currently being undertaken as part of the nation’s $21 million emergency disease response plan, regulated by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Phase 1 of the Nationwide Polio Vaccination Campaign, which targets low rates of immunisation in children under the age of 15, began in the capital of Port Moresby on Sept. 24. Phase 2 will run from Oct. 29 to Nov. 11 in the capital and from Nov. 5 to Nov. 18 throughout the provinces.

The true need for additional funding and increased immunisation came to a head on Oct. 2, after reports emerged that a nine-year-old child had died from the polio virus. His death is the first polio-caused death in Papua New Guinea since the country was declared polio-free in 2000.

"He died as a result of the paralysis involving his muscles for breathing,” Dr Sibauk Bieb, Papua New Guinea’s executive manager of public health and national coordinator for the Nationwide Polio Vaccination Campaign, revealed. "He had been seen in hospital but there was nothing else that the hospital or the facility where he was could do for him, so he was actually sent home.”

Related Stories Sept. 21, 2018 Australia to Give $10 Million to Papua New Guinea to Combat Infectious Diseases

This follows Australia’s funding boost of $10 million dollars in September to increase overall immunization efforts in Papua New Guinea and is part of an $18-million donation for 2018-2021. Since 2011, Australia has contributed a total of $104 million to the program.