New polio eradication strategy announced

June 10, 2021

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) will launch the Polio Eradication Strategy 2022-2026, which is designed to overcome the remaining challenges to ending polio, including setbacks caused by COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While polio cases have fallen 99.9% since 1988, the WHO said polio remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and persistent barriers to reaching every child with polio vaccines and the pandemic have contributed to an increase in polio cases. Last year, 1226 cases of all forms of polio were recorded compared to 138 in 2018. 

The 2022-2026 Strategy underscores the urgency of getting eradication efforts back on track and offers a comprehensive set of actions that will position the GPEI to achieve a polio-free world. These actions, many of which are underway in 2021, include:

·        Further integrating polio activities with essential health services—including routine immunization—and building closer partnerships with high-risk communities to co-design immunization events and better meet their health needs, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

·         Applying a gender equality lens to the implementation of program activities, recognizing the importance of female workers to build community trust and improve vaccine acceptance.

·         Strengthening advocacy to urge greater accountability and ownership of the program at all levels, including enhanced performance measurement and engagement with new partners, such as the new Eastern Mediterranean Regional Subcommittee on Polio Eradication and Outbreaks.

·         Implementing innovative new tools, such as digital payments to frontline health workers.

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