New Zealand has just made a big move in the name of ending preventable disease.
The New Zealand high commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Phillip Taula, has revealed the country will commit $2 million NZD to the World Health Organization (WHO) to help tackle the outbreak of polio in Papua New Guinea. The funding, he stated, will go toward expanding nationwide vaccination drives.
"New Zealand has long supported the goal of a polio-free Pacific,” Taula stated in a media release. “We welcome this opportunity to contribute to the work of our partners in the Papua New Guinea health system and the World Health Organization.”
Papua New Guinea first began a polio vaccination campaign last July after the nation experienced its first polio outbreak in 18 years. The three-week campaign was followed by an additional two sub-national drives and four nationwide campaigns.
In the past year, 26 polio cases have been confirmed while an additional 3 million children have been fully immunized.
Thank you #NewZealand 🇳🇿 for supporting efforts to #EndPolio in #PapuaNewGuinea!— World Health Organization Western Pacific (@WHOWPRO) July 8, 2019
This contribution will help detect cases and boost routine immunization services 💉 to prevent future outbreaks of polio or any vaccine-preventable diseases.https://t.co/dpBOK3Pxrl#VaccinesWork
Takeshi Kasai, regional director for the WHO Western Pacific, said that while significant strides have been made, the fight against polio will not be over until every last child is fully vaccinated. He said the goal couldn’t be met without support from countries like New Zealand.
"I thank the government of New Zealand for this contribution to WHO,” he stated. “This contribution comes at a critical time: right now, we need to sustain our response operations until Papua New Guinea becomes polio-free again – this contribution will help us to do that.”
Alongside the oral polio vaccine, the most recent mass vaccination campaign included immunizations against both measles and rubella. An additional 1 million children were targeted under the campaign, which concluded earlier in July.
New Zealand has now committed 8 million toward supporting child immunization in the Pacific island nation.
Its aid coincides with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — as well as funding from Australia, Korea, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.