The eventual discontinuation of the Global Polio Eradication Initative poses challenges that urgently need to be addressed. It will have a large impact not just on WHO, but also on immunization, surveillance and health system capacities in many affected countries. Handling those challenges is crucial, if we are going to avoid serious consequences for global health, in many areas.
Planning has already been underway for some time within the GPEI framework, notably country level planning and the work on post-certification structures. What has not to the same extent been the case is planning to account for the programmatic and organizational impact on WHO, which is large. Polio funded personnel spend an estimated 55% of their time working on other tasks than polio, and this work could be lost when the program closes down, and the financing for this staff disappears.
This report represents an important step in the direction of meeting this challenge. But it is only a beginning. WHO needs to clearly outline the capacities that need to be transitioned into the Programme budget, to cost them clearly, and to show, on a country by country basis, why keeping them in the WHO represents crucial added value for global health and for national health targets. Where that is not the case, other options should be explored. Hence, we strongly urge WHO to develop a strategic action plan and present it to the EB in January, as requested by the draft decision, and to base this plan on active participation in county planning and dialogue with affected states, as well as close dialogue with involved partners.
We would furthermore underline the urgency of exploring possible financing for the transitioning of capacities to the PB. The Strategic Action Plan should be structured in a way that facilitates this, which, again, requires a country level focus. In our view, the guidance given by the 71st WHA to the development of the PB 20/21 must take into account the progress made in mobilizing financial support for transitioning Polio-funded capacities.
We co-sponsor and strongly support the draft decision.