Chairperson, Honorable Ministers, distinguished delegates, and colleagues,
GHC in collaboration with PATH would like to take this opportunity to highlight several issues for your consideration regarding agenda item 14.5.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) anticipates the world will be polio-free by 2019. While global leaders rally to safely complete polio eradication, of both wild polioviruses in Pakistan and Afghanistan and vaccine derived polioviruses (VDPVs), urgent attention must also be paid to sustaining the public health gains made towards polio eradication. This includes extending immunization coverage and improving the planning and supply of vaccines per the commitment to the Global Vaccine Action Plan; emergency preparedness through the Global Health Security Agenda; and the development and adoption of new tools, such as a safer version of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) with less potential to cause VDPVs, and other vaccine technologies to extend the supply of vaccines.
Additionally, human resources, facilities, and processes funded directly by the GPEI are substantially utilized in the delivery of non-polio eradication functions, particularly in the areas of immunization, surveillance, and emergency response. It is unclear whether authorities and resources will exist to sustain these efforts beyond the deadline for polio eradication. It is unrealistic to expect complete national ownership of these programs by 2019.
We recommend that World Health Organization (WHO) meet with polio focus countries to urge the accelerated development of detailed costed strategies for (a) programs that ensure the country stays polio-free; (b) the continuation of programs for other health priorities; and (c) discontinuation of any unnecessary polio-specific programming. Additionally, we recommend that the WHO consult with the GPEI’s major donors to map donor-supported activities that should sustain beyond polio’s end.