The promise of a polio-free world has been a driving force behind the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), contributing to critical health gains over the past three decades. Indeed, before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), polio eradication signified to many what the world could achieve by joining together to protect and promote the health of all children.
As the world – and especially country health systems – adjusted to a new global health threat in COVID-19, the GPEI launched an intensive review to identify barriers to eradication and develop a new strategy to deliver on the promise of a polio-free world. The complexity of the task grew as the programme had to take inventory of challenges faced in the years before COVID-19 and define solutions that will work in a world perhaps forever altered in the wake of COVID-19. Without a doubt, the single greatest asset for this exercise has been more than 300 stakeholders who, through interviews, workshops and reviews, lent knowledge and insight into the new and unfamiliar terrain of eradicating polio while mitigating the risks and responding to the needs of a global pandemic.
Over the past few months, it has become clear: to place the GPEI back on the path to eradication, we must operate with an emergency tempo while we also become more accountable to the collective partnership, more responsive to the intersecting needs of impacted communities, more welcoming of intersecting fields of expertise, and more integrated with social and health programmes that deliver critical interventions to vulnerable populations.
The Polio Eradication Strategy 2022–2026 reflects the kind of integrated approaches that will be required to deliver on the promise of eradication. Through this new strategy, we believe the GPEI has re-envisioned its relationship with governments, deepened its commitment to polio-affected communities, made changes to empower and safeguard the frontline workforce, and expanded its partnerships to achieve broader (i) The total, direct and indirect, effects of a programme, service or institution on a health status and overall health and socio‐economic development. (ii) Positive or negative in polio-priority geographies, alongside key innovations that will improve detection and response. The strategy also sets clear goals for strengthening the programme’s gender responsiveness, in recognition that progress toward eradication will be made the more that women’s meaningful participation and empowerment becomes a cornerstone of GPEI efforts, as outlined in its Gender Equality Strategy. In further alignment with the Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s strategic plan (“Gavi 5.0”), the new strategy offers a more holistic approach to immunization and shares with IA2030 its principles of being people-centred, country-owned, partnership-based and data-guided.
Citation: Delivering on a Promise. Polio Eradication Strategy 2022–2026: Pre-publication version, as of 10 June 2021, Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021. License CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.