Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research
Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) – Investment case 2019-2023
September 2019 :: 48 pages
[Excerpt; Editor’s text bolding]
…The Polio Endgame Strategy 2019–2023
The purpose of the Polio Endgame Strategy 2019–2023 is to achieve eradication of all polioviruses. Key to the success of the programme is the continued use of proven strategies, such as the surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis, environmental surveillance and supplementary immunization activities.
To meet the final challenges, the new strategy leverages the GPEI’s systematic collaboration with other health and humanitarian programmes. This model of collaboration will enable the GPEI and its partners to identify potential synergies, share information for action, increase capacity and more fully meet the health and humanitarian needs of communities. As a key example of this, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, joined the Polio Oversight Board (POB) in March 2019. Gavi’s commitment to bringing together public and private sectors in support of global health equity makes them an ideal partner for strengthening immunization systems and sustaining health gains achieved through the eradication effort.
The GPEI is also working with development agencies and nongovernmental organizations to explore how projects in complementary essential service sectors – such as water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, education and primary health care – can be prioritized to meet the basic needs of communities who are also at high risk of polio. As the basic needs of underserved and impoverished children and families are increasingly met, communities will be more likely to welcome the polio vaccine and other health interventions delivered through the GPEI and its partners.
GPEI budgetary requirements
In September 2018, the POB approved a multiyear budget that defines the resource requirements of the GPEI from 2019 to 2023. The total cost is US$ 4.2 billion, including US$ 3.27 billion in incremental costs beyond what has already been secured for 2013–2019. The new budget makes investments to sustain and intensify key interventions, with costs reducing incrementally over time to reflect anticipated programmatic progress. This will specify target reductions to contain costs.
Without the additional US$ 3.27 billion, the GPEI cannot proceed with all of the requirements to ensure that it is in the best possible position to eradicate polio. Polio activities that protect non-endemic countries from international spread will be immediately at risk without donor backing. Support to countries that are at higher risk of an outbreak could also see cuts if financial commitments are not secured. While the programme is equipped to make tough decisions by prioritizing essential activities in endemic countries, its capacity to protect children around the world from a debilitating and deadly disease could be severely impacted without donor funding.
The GPEI’s value for money
Substantiating the impact of investing in polio eradication, recent modelling attests that eradicating polio will generate US$ 14 billion in expected cumulative cost savings by 2050, when compared with the cost countries will incur for controlling the virus indefinitely. In financial terms, the global effort to eradicate polio has already saved more than US$ 27 billion in health costs since 1988.
Investing in polio eradication is both an entry point and a foundation for investing in broad global health interventions, many of which support the Sustainable Development Goals – most notably universal health coverage and its protection against medical impoverishment through equitable access to safe, affordable, and effective vaccines.
Through its expansive network of community-based workers and volunteers, the GPEI operates in parts of the world that have been previously unreached by health interventions, which is a unique asset for health service delivery. Female frontline workers have been especially effective at establishing trust with affected communities. The GPEI has also been uniquely placed to deliver more than polio vaccines, including through the delivery of vitamin A, antimalarial bednets, and deworming tablets, and through its on-the-ground support for epidemics and humanitarian crises, notably the Ebola outbreak.
The power of vaccines
Eradicating polio will be an achievement that should not be underestimated, but the political will to ensure that efforts continue is also not a given. Bold financial and political commitments from both governments and institutional donors are needed to rid the world of this disease. Ultimately, those efforts will not only protect future children from polio, they will also ensure that the world remains polio-free and that the resources and infrastructure built by the GPEI can be transferred to support other health needs.
Now, as the world faces unforeseen threats to hard-won progress from the spread of misinformation and the rise of vaccine hesitancy, the GPEI presents a unique opportunity. By reaching this historic goal, polio eradication will send a strong message. It will provide both irrefutable evidence of the transformative power of vaccines and proof of what the world can achieve by joining efforts in support of the global good.