— 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.
People who believed they had overcome polio decades ago are again fighting a daily uphill battle for their health. Today many are experiencing new muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, and constant pain – a condition is known as the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP). Clinical studies have also shown that ageing polio survivors 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.
Canberra resident and polio survivor, Rohan Clark, remembers his surprise at landing on the floor when he did tried to get out of bed. “My leg just wouldn’t support me – I had no idea why. I remember parents waving at windows at the end of visiting hour, the timing of which was strictly policed. I remember not knowing what the time was and therefore how long there was to wait for visiting hour. Yet I also remember the excitement of my first ever watch, so I would know when visiting hour was.” Now in his 60s, Rohan explains “Despite some muscle weakness, I am thankfully still independently mobile. By far my most significant late impact of polio is fatigue. I need to lie down every three to five hours and to sleep at least once during each day. This means ‘getting horizontal’ for 30 to 60 minutes at least twice every day without fail. My body will just not allow me to push these limits. Fatigue forced me to retire from full-time employment earlier than I wanted to, and it continues to restrict the range of activities I can undertake.”
Polio Australia’s President, Dr John Tierney, adds “The NDIS comes way too late for the majority of our polio survivors as. It will not be fully rolled out until 2020, and 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 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.”
Rohan will be joining with dozens of other polio survivors at Parliament House on the 29th October for Polio Australia’s “We’re Still Here!” campaign. This will be combined the nationwide launch 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” display which reflects on how “The polio legacy lives on”, and reinforcing the need for post-polio health services that are urgently required through Australian Government funding.
Further information about LEoP and Polio Awareness Month can be found at www.polioaustralia.org.au and www.stillhere.org.au.
Media Contact for photo opportunities and interviews:
Kristy Rackham, RN
Health Education & Public Relations Consultant – Polio Australia
Ph: 0487 769 629 / E: [email protected]