darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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June 29, 2009

The Nationals Member for Gippsland took time last week whilst in Canberra to meet with a group from Polio Australia and to discuss some of the issues polio sufferers and their support groups are currently facing across Gippsland and Latrobe Valley.

Mr Chester said the meeting was highly informative and there were several important issues discussed at the meeting that were vital to the ongoing needs of sufferers of the disease.

“In many ways, polio is seen as a disease of a previous generation but the impact is still being felt across our community,” Mr Chester said.

“Many people are reluctant to talk about the effects the disease has had on them throughout their lives but there are ongoing efforts to provide more support.

“There is a certain stigma that surrounds this terrible disease which we as a society have to try and remove if we are going to provide assistance to sufferers in the future.”

Mr Chester said there were a considerable number of Gippslanders suffering from the after effects of disease, with certain cases being more obvious than others and many cases going undiagnosed.

“Unfortunately there are still people suffering from polio and they form part of the largest disability group in Australia,” Mr Chester said.

“I have been advised around 40,000 people currently suffer from a paralytic form of the disease across Australia.

“Forms of the disease that aren’t paralytic often show symptoms similar to other medical ailments which can lead to misdiagnosis.

“This has raised concerns over the amount of people with the disease who have gone undiagnosed, despite suffering symptoms.”

Mr Chester said it was important that the awareness of polio was increased and that people with the disease receive the appropriate care and support.

“I will be working with Polio Australia to explore options available to them that will provide funding to assist in supporting sufferers of the disease,” Mr Chester said.

“The government must be working in partnership with disability groups to provide better services and care to both sufferers and support groups, particularly in regional communities.”

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