UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Officer Norman Gillespie said the organisation, and its Australian peers in Rotary International and the Global Poverty Project, had lobbied both sides of politics to win a “long-haul” commitment to end polio and eradicate the health risk to children.
“The debilitating and sometimes life-threatening impact of polio hits children hardest and leaves them with a legacy they carry into adulthood,” Dr Gillespie said. “It would be a proud moment for our Government to say it contributed to ending polio, but a sorry one if aid funding to international polio programs fell.
Dr Gillespie said the international effort to end polio rejoiced in news last month that the World Health Organisation had removed Nigeria from a list of just three endemic countries.
However, he said the news would be tainted if the Australian Government failed to maintain its financial commitment to eradicating the virus.
"Polio is still harming children in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan and still a threat wherever children are on the move as a result of conflict. If we lose sight of eradicating polio where it still has a strangle-hold, we risk undoing the work we’ve already done."
Dr Gillespie said an outbreak in conflict-riddled Syria last year and an outbreak in the Ukraine and Laos this year were a sign the deadly disease could, and would, spread.
UNICEF Head of Polio and Australian, Peter Crowley, echoed Dr Gillespie’s words saying the global effort to end polio could not lose pace.
“Until all children everywhere are consistently and routinely immunised against polio, the threat remains,” Dr Crowley said. “We cannot let down our guard; we have to keep going until there is not a single child anywhere who remains unvaccinated.”
World Polio Day is a United Nations-endorsed international day held on October 24.
Stay up-to-date on UNICEF's work in Australia and around the world
20 Sept 2023
This is what climate change looks like around the world
Over one billion children around the world are at extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change. That is nearly half of the world's children. And it is happening today.
27 Apr 2023
Voice to Parliament: three allies tell us why they’re voting yes
UNICEF Australia Young Ambassadors, Emily, Kbora and Harrison are passionate about advocating for children's rights and promoting social justice. Find out why our Young Ambassadors support the Voice to Parliament and why they believe it is important to recognise the rights of First Nations peoples in Australia.
14 Aug 2022
Empowering young people in remote Australia
Dakota has already gained an impressive list of achievements, thanks to a new initiative by the Community Spirit Foundation supported by UNICEF Australia.
17 Mar 2022
New life in a basement
Yuliya gently rocks her newborn baby in the basement of a medical centre in Kyiv. Vera is only days old, but her life is already in danger.
20 Sept 2021
Hidden impacts of the pandemic we’re not talking about enough
They may be less likely to get COVID, but children are bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
26 Aug 2021
Three young Indigenous leaders you should know about
Young voices inspire change and give other young people new ways of seeing the world and imagining what is possible.
24 Aug 2021
The most incredible COVID vaccine delivery stories so far
No matter how far or difficult, our teams are working to reach everyone with COVID-19 vaccines.
6 Aug 2021
High school from home: how to survive exams during lockdown
My peers and I had so many questions on our mind: will the HSC still go ahead? What is going to happen to trials? And of course, most important of all: will we get any bonus points for this?
3 Mar 2021
Ten faces of Syria
Today, 2.6 million children are displaced inside Syria and millions more have fled to neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and beyond.
3 Dec 2020
Five things you need to know on International Day of People with Disabilities
Today on International Day of People with Disabilities, disabled folks tend to get a lot of questions. Actually, those of us who use mobility aids or have visible disabilities tend to get questions year-round, often from strangers. For children with disabilities, this can be especially difficult. Here are five essential things you need to know about people with disabilities, and how together we can build a more equal world for all.