In 2012 d’Arcy Lunn travelled to Pakistan and India with his work on the End of Polio campaign and with UNICEF and he has also worked to end polio in Uganda, South Sudan and other spots in the world.

Tell us about yourself d’Arcy.

I’m Australian and grew up in a small country town. My first intrigue that I can remember about different places and things, was when I was four years old visiting my Aunt in another state. I was fascinated that milk came in a red carton when I was used to it coming from a blue carton in South Australia. Somehow I still love anything and everything that is different about a new place.

Since then it has always been a passion of mine to go to new places, meet new people and learn from the experiences.

For the past 4 years I have spread my passions into polio eradication with The End of Polio campaign, RESULTS and UNICEF. I worked on a polio community engagement program in January 2012 in Australia with the Australian and Indian cricket teams to celebrate the passing of a year without a case of polio in India. In that year I then attended the UNGA Polio Event and helped manage the polio segment of the Global Citizen Festival with Ms Aseefa Bhuto Zardari. I took my first trip to Pakistan in that November.

I think eradicating a disease is an incredible stepping stone to other topics and issues to see an end to extreme poverty. Also polio is at a critical moment in time – on the cusp of eradication but a crippling shortfall in political will, community engagement and funding may see it’s end slip through our hands and I want to make sure I at least do as much as I can to grab this opportunity and see a polio-free world for everyone, everywhere and forever.

How do you stay motivated?

It is not hard to keep motivated and I can’t ever see my passion for access to health for all diminish as I know that any actions, even small actions when multiplied by lots of people does create big change. I love being a part of that process and am always learning and refining it to do more.

What can people do to help at home – not everyone is able to head to Pakistan?

The biggest thing to remember here is that the advocacy you do in your own country is just as significant, important and effective as anything you can do in a developing country. You can take action without needing to go abroad and if you do go overseas don’t let your experiences stay in the aeroplane when you get home. Importantly follow those programs that already exist, like One Last Push, and support them.

Working in global health requires patience, empathy, pragmatism, humility and sense of humour – often all contradicting each other! If global health is your launching pad into social justice, aid and development or global travel, don’t think it has to stay there, there are many different angles and passions to follow. On the flip-side of that as a former primary school teacher and having only read Where There Are No Doctors I didn’t think that would qualify me to work in the field of advocacy for polio eradication and global health. I have now come to know the powerful combination of information and inspiration to have people connect with the topics and issues is quite easy, a lot of fun and with meaningful purpose for effective outcomes.

What can we learn from aiming for polio eradication?

I was working on the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program in South Sudan in 2015 as a communications specialist for social mobilisation. I still use my voice as I did in the classroom but my content is a little different and so too is my audience. I can tell you in 15 years and over 85 countries of working in aid and development I have not seen a country needing more assistance than this one.

The drop in aid budgets happening in many nations, including my own of Australia, will directly affect the world’s most vulnerable people.

If it is aid efficacy we are concern about then there are a few things we know that work – in particular polio immunisation. In 1988 there were 350,000 cases of polio and still 125 countries endemic with polio. In 2015 there were just 74 cases worldwide and in just three remaining endemic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Why are you so passionate about polio?

The polio eradication program has so much to celebrate after many years of commitment and collaboration.
If we are able to make achievement like this and collaborate to see the global eradication of polio then we know aid works and is important not just to those countries but to the global community.

When I talk of polio eradication I also talk about strengthening routine immunisation, building a platform for other health services and pioneering new ways and means of people born anywhere to have access to basic services like immunisation.

The challenges of polio eradication have only got more difficult the closer we get towards eradication but if we have been able to keep a heavily disrupted country from civil unrest, lack of governance and an economic system that is set to collapse at any moment like South Sudan on track, then we can do it.

What do you say to the politicians stepping up to support the One Last Push Campaign?

I hope you can also play your role in polio eradication and the legacy that can see this disease ended forever. I urge you to raise this issue within your fellow politicians and your constituencies as a great example of Australian Aid and to support the incredible, life-saving work done in polio eradication in South Sudan and with immunisation, health and aid more broadly.