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19 November 2019

19 November 2019 – UNICEF Australia welcomed today the Australian Government’s announcement of a further AUD$15 million to support the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). “The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne is to be congratulated for her leadership on the global stage for this financial and political commitment to ending polio and for being a gender champion,” said Tony Stuart, CEO of UNICEF Australia.

The GPEI will be investing in women and girls including supporting hundreds of thousands of female vaccinators, campaign coordinators, supervisors and social mobilizers that drive progress against the virus every day - and address gender-related barriers to immunization.

The Australian Government’s commitment is in addition to its investment of AUD$54 million (2015-2021) and was announced at the Polio Pledging Moment during the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi earlier today.

UNICEF has been partnering with GPEI for many years in the polio eradication project and around the world works with vaccine manufacturers to procure adequate supplies of competitively priced oral polio vaccines on behalf of national governments for routine immunization and vaccination campaigns.

When the GPEI launched in 1988, polio paralyzed over 350,000 children across 125 countries every year. With the dedication of donors, governments, health workers and partners, the world has made incredible strides against polio – reducing wild polio cases by over 99% in three decades. Because of this historic effort against polio, an estimated 18 million people are walking today who otherwise would have been paralyzed by polio and 1.5 million lives saved.

The commitments announced today come at a critical time for the polio eradication effort. Barriers to reaching every child – including inconsistent campaign quality, insecurity, conflict, massive mobile populations, and, in some instances, parental refusal – have led to ongoing transmission of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

UNICEF Australia welcomes new private sector partner

“With our largest-ever private sector partnership for polio eradication, UNICEF Australia makes special thanks to our new partner KASTA Technologies,” said Mr Stuart. The four-year partnership with the Australian smart home and building automation company is worth AUD$500,000 and will directly support UNICEF’s polio eradication work in the Asia Pacific region, and fund oral vaccines for approximately 1.8 million children.

“The new partnership was announced at a recent World Polio Day event hosted at Parliament House and I’d like to personally thank the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt and the co-chairs of Friends of UNICEF Parliamentary Association, Katie Allen MP and Peter Khalil MP for their continued advocacy with government on our goal to eradicate polio,” said Mr Stuart, CEO of UNICEF Australia.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.