— PRESS RELEASE —
October is National Polio Awareness Month. On 29th October, polio survivors will converge on Parliament in Canberra to remind the Australian Government that the legacy of polio is still a very real, daily chronic concern for 400,000 Australians. The “We’re Still Here!” campaign highlights that the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) shuts out Australia’s single largest physical disability group – the survivors of Australia’s polio epidemics.
Dr John Tierney PhD OAM, Polio Australia’s President, explains “People experiencing ageing with the chronic conditions originally caused by polio are again fighting a daily uphill battle for their health. Today they experience new muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, and constant pain. Clinical studies have also shown that they are significantly more susceptible to a whole gamut of additional chronic conditions. They urgently need financial help from the government to get specialised post-polio treatment right now”.
Polio Australia is the primary source of support for those who were affected by poliomyelitis in the epidemics of the last century. Despite a complete lack of funding from the federal government, and operating solely on the goodwill and generosity of private donations and philanthropic project grants, Polio Australia continues to proactively and progressively support and represent Australians who are now ageing with the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP) and its subset Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS).
Dr Tierney states “The NDIS comes way too late for the majority of our polio survivors. It will not be fully rolled out until 2020. Most polio survivors will be ineligible due to the cut off age of 65 years. People need help now because “We’re Still Here!” and will be for decades to come. The personal cost of LEoP and PPS for individuals, carers and families is overwhelming. As the condition is not well known amongst health practitioners, on a macro scale, the burden on the Australian health sector due to mis-diagnosis and inappropriate management also requires major financial contribution from the government. We continue to do everything we can to support people, but it is time for the government to step up and financially stand behind our work”.
Throughout October, Polio Australia will be conducting a range of awareness activities culminating in the nationwide launch at Parliament House of a new clinical practice resource for GP’s and allied health professionals titled “The Late Effects Of Polio: Managing Muscles And Mobility”, plus a “Polio Timeline” which reflects on how “the legacy lives on” and reinforces the need for post-polio health services that are urgently required through Australian Government funding. Further information about LEoP/PPS, and Polio Awareness Month can be found at www.polioaustralia.org.au and www.stillhere.org.au.