Polio health economics: assessing the benefits and costs of polio, non-polio, and integrated activities of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

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Abstract

Background: Investments made by countries and donors to support polio eradication and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) over the past 35 years provided financial support for significant health interventions beyond the prevention of polio. Prior economic analyses that sought to quantify the economic benefits of some interventions encountered insufficient data and evidence associated with non-polio-specific activities. The 2022-2026 GPEI Strategic Plan explicitly identified integration and gender equity as funded mandates that must move forward in parallel with polio eradication, but these goals remain vaguely defined from a health economic perspective.
Methods: To ensure unambiguous and full accounting for all financial investments in the GPEI, polio eradication, and other desirable objectives, we identify the health economic analysis methods and inputs needed to ensure transparent financial accountability and cost-effective use of funds.
Results: Sufficient inputs and methods exist to characterize the health and economic benefits of polio-specific activities, but we identified the need for additional information and method development for some non-polio-specific and cost-sharing activities. Donors who seek to support non-polio-specific objectives as part of the GPEI may want to provide dedicated support financing for which it may be difficult to apply typical health economic criteria and to expect net health and/or net economic benefits.
Conclusions: Given the mixture of funding sources provided to the GPEI, which includes support by governments and private donors, we recommend that the GPEI separately account for financial needs that represent necessities for polio eradication from those used for other stated objectives. An added layer of specificity that identifies all funds according to each activity, the accountable party and/or parties, and the associated measurable health or other outcome(s), will enable improved health economic analyses and reporting to donors who seek to track returns on their investments.

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