WHO urges countries to renew commitment to global polio eradication
The Director-General, World Health Organisation(WHO), Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus called on countries to renew their commitment to ending polio globally.
The Director-General made this call during a virtual event organised by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to inaugurate the Polio Eradication Strategy 2022-2026.
Ghebreyesus said: “with this new Strategy, the GPEI has clearly outlined how to overcome the final barriers to securing a polio-free world.
“GPEI has outlined how to secure a polio-free world and improve the health and wellbeing of communities for generations to come.
“But to succeed, we urgently need renewed political and financial commitments from governments and donors. Polio eradication is at a pivotal moment.
“It is important we capitalise on the momentum of the new strategy and make history together by ending this disease,” said Ghebreyesus, also a member of the Polio Oversight Board.
According to the statement, the new strategy will guide countries on how to overcome the remaining challenges to ending polio, including setbacks caused by COVID-19.
“While polio cases have fallen 99.9 per cent since 1988, polio remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and persistent barriers to reaching every child with polio vaccines and the pandemic have contributed to an increase in polio cases.
“Last year, 1,226 cases of all forms of polio were recorded compared to 138 in 2018.
“In 2020, the GPEI paused polio door-to-door campaigns for four months to protect communities from the spread of COVID-19 and contributed up to 30,000 programme staff and over 100 million dollars in polio resources to support pandemic response in almost 50 countries.’’
Leaders from the two countries yet to interrupt wild polio transmission – Pakistan and Afghanistan-called for renewed global solidarity and the continued resources necessary to eradicate this vaccine-preventable disease.
They committed to strengthening their partnership with GPEI to improve vaccination campaigns and engagement with communities at high risk of polio.
According to the statement, 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.