6.10 Poliomyelitis: intensification of the global eradication initiative

Secretariat note

The report provides an overview of progress using the milestones of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan 2010–2012, outlining risks to eradication, risk-mitigation strategies, and the roadmap for the development and finalization of a polio “endgame” strategy. The Board is invited to consider the report and a draft resolution.

Watchers' notes of EB discussion

Poliomyelitis: intensification of the global eradication initiative (EB Document 130/19)

India was the star of the day as its milestone of zero polio diagnosis for year 2011 verified success in eradication through deploying innovative methods of engaging multi-stakeholders, integrating elements of primary care like sanitation and hygiene, targeting migrating populations and maintaining full vaccination coverage and surveillance in a climate of intense political commitment. To this end, India was exhorted by delegates who urged the remaining four endemic zones to use it as a case study considering that only two years ago, India had approximately 50% of the global burden of new cases and was widely regarded as a retractable scenario.

The prioritization of the issue as a global public health emergency was reaffirmed by India, the 46 countries of the African Regional Office, the US and others, who also urged reciprocal prioritization at national level with adequate mobilization of financial, technical and human resources to its eradication.

Japan urged the Secretariat to explain why the 2012 goals were not extended, stated its pact with Pakistan to fund vaccination campaigns and asked for amendments to consider polio eradication as a national priority not only an emergency, to plan for the “renewed” implementation not “continued” implementation and for establishing a special polio program in the organization.

The UK asked for extension of the six year plan and Brazil affirmed that, despite achieving success in 1989, it is still immunizing for polio.

Nigeria trying to explain failures, stressed that previous gains were bungled in 2005 by harmful political manoeuvrings that saw deliberate misinformation to communities. Renewed efforts were cited with the allocation of a further 30 USD million, the setting up of a presidential task force to hold local leaders liable and use of incentives for mother and child to mold immunization success.  The delegate expressed concern for the presence of newer viral strain and called for technical support. Based on these, AFRO sided with Nigeria.

Rotary International announced meeting a fund raising target of 200 USD million early and urged focus on Nigeria.

The Organization of Islamic Countries asked all International Financial Institutions and G8 donors to expand contribution to bridge gaps and scale up eradication.

The Secretariat and the DG noted that failure of eradication would be the largest and costliest ever for global action stressing the need for political leadership, government ownership, adequate investment, good planning, national oversight and accountability. The Secretariat was confident that both countries had oversight mechanisms in place and ensured that the endgame strategy will run under a public process promising a plan by early 2013 ready for next WHA.  

In summary, the exportation of polio to China, Uganda, Kenya and other parts of the world by Nigeria and Pakistan was acknowledged as a threat to global health security, with calls to increase funding and cross-border eradication efforts. It was to be retained as a global health emergency and eradication action was to be operated as such.