Reducing Deaths from Infectious Disease in Austrailia

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Improvements to Australia’s mortality rates from infectious diseases over the last century

Introduction
Over the last century, the mortality rate from infectious diseases in Australia has declined significantly3. Along with highly successful research to develop effective vaccines, public health campaigns have contributed substantially to this outcome. Organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF have been heavily involved in finding vaccines to treat these diseases and promoting education and community health initiatives23. Amongst the many infectious diseases prominent in Australia in the 20th century, Poliomyelitis (Polio) was considered the most terrifying of diseases, as the “prospect of paralysis and permanent disability” was particularly frightening2. Public authorities and Australian community organisations such as Rotary4 have been critical to the success of national campaigns to educate, coordinate and fund vaccination programs. However, although Australia was finally declared a “polio free zone” in 2000, the disease is still a threat to travellers as it is considered endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria5.

Infectious disease
According to WHO, an infectious disease is an “illness caused by bacteria that can spread between people or from animals to people”, and has the “potential to cause long term or more serious effects”2. Some of the most deadly infectious diseases that have had the most significant effects

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