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Tackling two big diseases

Tackling two big diseases

New Zealand is giving more than $4 million to combat two big diseases, Foreign Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

She told UNAIDS officials visiting Wellington that NZAID, the government's overseas development agency, will allocate $1.3 million towards HIV/Aids prevention in the Pacific and also contribute $1.25 million to the UN Global Trust Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria to support programmes in the Pacific. UNAIDS is the main advocate for worldwide action against HIV/AIDS.

Another $1.6 million will go towards the eradication of polio-- $600,000 to the Rotary International Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the world’s largest public health initiative launched in 1988, $500,000 to UNICEF and another $500,000 to the WHO.

"As we stand on the brink of eradicating polio from the planet for good, HIV/Aids appears to be on the rise in the Pacific region particularly in countries like Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji and PNG," Marian Hobbs said. "It's important that we tackle the disease.

"Our contribution to polio eradication matches money Rotary raised from the community. Rotary came to me recently and said that if they could raise $1.6 million - would the government match it? They have raised the money and now we're meeting our side of the bargain. I'm in awe of how willing New Zealanders across the country have been to open their wallets.

"Only once before have people succeeded in eradicating a disease (small pox). Now we're on the verge of getting rid of polio for good, as long as the funding can be found internationally to finish the job."

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