The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) welcomes the latest report from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which presents a rigorous independent review of the programme’s progress toward its goals — aiming to interrupt all remaining wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) transmission and circulating variant poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) transmission by the end of 2023. The IMB concludes that despite recent progress toward eradication, remaining challenges make stopping transmission of WPV1 this year unlikely, while ending all variant poliovirus outbreaks will take even more time.
The IMB notes the encouraging restriction of WPV1 transmission in the two remaining endemic countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the continuous work to reach every child with polio vaccines, and the political commitment to maintaining the progress that has been made. The IMB also noted improvements in combating variant poliovirus outbreaks, including the GPEI’s targeted efforts to implement large-scale campaigns that protect more children and strengthen surveillance systems. The report underscores the urgent need to stop all forms of the virus – because polio anywhere remains a threat to people everywhere.
The GPEI understands that recent progress against poliovirus is fragile and serious challenges remain. Many of the challenges outlined by the IMB are recognized barriers in the areas most vital to the success of eradication, including complex security and humanitarian situations, operational issues hindering campaign performance, and hurdles to effective integration of the polio programme with other health efforts. The GPEI remains confident that it can innovate and adapt in the face of this adversity to reach all children in the world’s most challenging settings. Still, the IMB notes that without adequate financial resources and political commitment at all levels, the programme will not be able to fully implement needed solutions.
The GPEI appreciates the IMB’s continued scrutiny and shared commitment to ending polio. In October 2023, the GPEI Polio Oversight Board will meet to analyse the IMB’s recommendations along with input from Technical Advisory Groups and country teams to adopt corrective actions that ensure the programme’s strategic goals are met.
The GPEI will continue working closely with the IMB, polio-affected countries, donors, and partners to optimize the polio programme’s response, improve immunization campaigns and disease surveillance, and ultimately overcome the remaining hurdles to deliver a world in which no child is paralyzed by this deadly disease.