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NZ Charity Part of Final Push for Polio Eradication

For Immediate Release 03/12/2012

NZ Charity Part of Final Push for Polio Eradication

The Global Poverty Project (GPP) is launching a new phase of it’s ‘The End of Polio’ campaign in Auckland today. The charity is spearheading a national effort to highlight the challenges and achievements of polio eradication globally over the next two years. The local initiative is part of a global push with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate polio.

“With just 175 cases left worldwide, polio is now in the endgame stage and could be wiped from the face of the earth by 2015,” said GPP NZ Country Director, William Watterson. “This is truly a momentous effort and a historic milestone for humanity.”

Watterson says polio has been 99.97% eradicated as a result of coordinated vaccination efforts throughout the developing world. Despite lingering outbreaks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, India has been declared polio free since going one full year without reporting any new cases.

Watterson says the polio endgame will require broad-based collaboration, targeted political pressure and a ground-swell of engagement from NZ citizens.

We’ll be celebrating the phenomenal efforts of Rotary, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others in the fight against polio,” said Watterson. “We’ll also be looking at how we can create more public and political engagement to meet the funding shortfall necessary to eradicate this disease.”

According to the The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the price tag for the polio endgame strategy is over US$5.5 Billion. Despite the success of the program, there is currently a funding shortfall of almost US$1 billion.

“To ensure the polio endgame gets the support it needs, Global Poverty Project will be launching a number of new exciting initiatives centered around polio over the next year,” said Watterson.

He says his organization will be asking kiwis to sign The End of Polio online petition, lobby their MP’s to bolster government support on this issue and attend rallies and events to show their solidarity with the cause.

Watterson says the government funding levels on polio vaccination have tapered off in recent years, at a critical time.

“The New Zealand Government has given a total of US$2.81 million toward global polio eradication efforts – starting with US$1.75 million between 2003 and 20005, and tapering down to just US$50,000 in 2010.” said Watterson. “The Government has been able to put forward substantial funding in the past, but the trend has been one of steady decline over the past decade, at exactly the time when we need to be stepping up our commitment to this issue."

Watterson says the Global Poverty Project’s campaign on The End of Polio is about reminding kiwis of the profound effect that aid can have on the lives of the poor when it’s spent in wisely. "It's crucial that we see the commitment to eradicate polio through to the end."

ends

Short GPP Film about the Polio Endgame
For more information:
www.theendofpolio.com
www.globalpovertyproject.com

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