Mr ENTSCH: Last month on 24 October was World Polio Day. I’d like to acknowledge the remarkable progress in the fight against polio led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. In nearly four decades, we’ve seen a 99.9 per cent reduction in polio, saving millions from paralysis and eradicating two polio virus strains. Yet challenges remain. Vaccine hesitancy, accessibility issues and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on immunisation rates remind us that polio anywhere is a threat everywhere. Recent detections in the US, the UK, Canada and Papua New Guinea underscore this.
The GPEI’s 2022-2026 strategy includes a novel polio vaccine, which is crucial not only for polio eradication but also for strengthening global health systems. Australia has significantly contributed, pledging $43.5 million through to 2026, but more is needed. The GPEI faces a $1.5 billion funding gap. Without sufficient support, we very much risk a resurgence of polio. I call on government to bolster our commitment to the global effort. Our continued support is vital for a polio-free world and for safeguarding global health security. The cost of inaction is far too great. Let’s not allow complacency to undo our hard-won progress against polio.