The ministers of health of Nigeria, Afghanistan, Angola and Senegal recently met to discuss the implementation, monitoring, economics and financing of a new plan for eradicating polio.
Last month, the World Health Assembly welcomed the new plan while expressing deep concern about the United States’ $1.3 billion funding shortfall (out of a budget of $2.6 billion) throughout the next 3 years. This financing shortfall is a serious risk to the eradication of polio — activities are already being cut back or postponed due to a lack of funds.
WHO director-general Margaret Chan called on the international funding community to stand tall for polio eradication.
“The next 3 years and especially the next 12 months, are critical to the polio eradication initiative and by extension, the entire international public health agenda,” she stated in a press release.
The new plan builds on lessons, including findings from a major independent evaluation examining the remaining barriers to eradication. It introduces district and area-specific strategies to target the ever-shrinking remaining reservoirs of poliovirus, exploits the bivalent oral polio vaccine to increase the impact of immunizations and tackles health system weaknesses. The success of this plan now hinges on implementation of activities at field level and the provision of adequate financing, according to the release.