Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced this week the Federal Government of Australia is adding $AU 50 million over four years to a new Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) campaign to wipe out the disease polio worldwide.
The funds will be used by GPEI to monitor outbreaks, purchase vaccines and respond anywhere when called upon, news.com.au reported:
British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani were present for the announcement, an event that happened alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced by videolink his foundation will be donating an additional $US40 million to the cause.
Although polio cases have been reduced by 99 percent since GPEI's first global push in 1988, the one percent of cases remaining, mostly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria, will be the hardest to eradicate, according to the October 24 World Polio Day story in the organization's newsletter.
A World Health Organization (WHO) polio fact sheet stated that poliovirus now affects mostly children under five years old, and all countries remain at risk as long as a single infection remains.
Lauded by UNICEF Australia and other groups, appreciation for the Australian Federal Government's contribution stirred up a cheering, photo-snapping mob around Rotary International Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd at a free End of Polio concert at Perth's Belvoir Amphitheatre, according to news.com.au.