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Rotary expresses concern to Foreign Affairs Minister

Rotary New Zealand expresses concern to Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully

Rotarians in partnership with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the United States based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are committed to the eradication of polio and New Zealand Rotarians with support of the New Zealand public have given NZ$4.6 million to the campaign.

For the past ten years Rotary New Zealand has been advocating on behalf of the partnership and recently expressed concern to Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully as to New Zealand’s lack of response to support the global community in its goal to eradicate polio from the world. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently announced his Governments Aust. $100 million further contribution taking their total since the campaign began in 1985 to $167 million.

This compares with NZ$3.2 million from the New Zealand Government over the 29 year period,.

Overall governments and donors worldwide have to date contributed US$12 billion.

Many in our community who today still suffer as a result of Post Polio Syndrome recall when Polio was endemic in New Zealand. Polio is a frightening crippling disease that leaves its victims with horrendous disabilities. A recent programme on Radio New Zealand recalled that in 1916, 1000 cases with 123 deaths and in 1936/37, 900 cases with 44 deaths were reported in New Zealand. The worst epidemics in New Zealand were 1916, 1924, 1936 and then from the mid 1940’s to the early 1950’s. The last epidemic in New Zealand was 1956. During those times, schools were closed, congregations of people prohibited, children banned from motor camps and inter island transport. Houses were put under quarantine and there was panic in some communities. Contrary to opinion, the virus also affects adults.

Polio is still endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria with rogue cases being reported in 2014 in Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Cameroon, Syria, Ethiopia and Somalia. Batty says New Zealand is not immune given the numbers of people entering New Zealand who may have been in contact with persons carrying the virus and the fact that many parents in New Zealand choose to put their children at risk by not having them immunised.


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