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Hope continues for A World Without Polio

18 FEBRUARY 2005

"Truly grateful my child will never have to face the ravages of polio in his lifetime."

"My grandmother was a sufferer and I grew up not understanding anything about it, but watched her in pain and disability. This has made it clear now what she went through."

"A real eye-opener to a world without polio."

A popular National Museum of Australia exhibition exploring Rotary's contribution to the eradication of polio across the world has garnered these and many other visitor comments since it opened late last year.

A World Without Polio: Truly Remarkable is in its final weeks, closing on February 27. The exhibition is part of the celebration of the service club's 100th anniversary next Wednesday.

Thousands of people have visited the exhibition which documents the widespread fear when polio was at its peak in Australia in the 1950s. It includes striking photographs of the worldwide effort to stamp out polio, historic newsreel footage of the disease's impact in Australia and two iron lungs, one operational.

Rotary began to focus its energies on a world free of polio in the 1980s, together with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the US Centers for Disease Control and various governments and donors.

"The result was PolioPlus, one of the world's most ambitious humanitarian undertakings," says Dr Kris Klugman, who worked on the exhibition for Rotary, in partnership with the National Museum.

"Rotarians have contributed nearly $1 billion for immunisation, as well as millions of voluntary hours towards eradicating the virus delayed by a recent African outbreak, but hoped to be eliminated by 2006. The last vaccinations in the program may take place this year."

A World Without Polio moves next to Wagga, where it will be displayed at the Museum of the Riverina from March 18 to May 1. It is hoped the exhibition will later travel to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Its creators have been consulted for advice on a similar exhibition on the fight against polio, due to open at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC in April.

A World Without Polio will be replaced in the Nation Focus Gallery by Behind the Lines, a collection of 2004's best political cartoons, beginning on March 24.

For interviews, images or more information please contact
Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or l.coleman@nma.gov.au or
Sandy Forbes on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or s.forbes@nma.gov.au