At their annual meeting on the 3-4 June 2021 in Oxford, UK, and virtually, the health ministers of the G7 countries reiterated their commitment to polio eradication. The health ministers affirmed in their official communique, that they need to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as many countries rely on their surveillance capacity and ability to reach vulnerable communities to prevent and respond to pandemics.
The statement was welcomed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) core partners, and it remains part of the launch of the new GPEI Strategy 2022-2026, which lays out the roadmap for achieving and maintaining a world free of all polioviruses. The new GPEI Strategy 2022-2026 was developed in close collaboration with partners, countries, and donors, and it lays out the roadmap for achieving and maintaining a world free of all polioviruses.
Simultaneously, the new plan will ensure that the polio eradication infrastructure’s benefits will continue to help larger public health initiatives long after the disease has been eradicated. The GPEI infrastructure, for example, continues to provide critical assistance to the COVID-19 pandemic response in 2020 and 2021 and will continue to do so as the global response accelerates vaccine roll-out activities.
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing havoc, the G7 has acknowledged that the GPEI has one of the most effective disease surveillance and response networks in the world. It can respond not only to polio epidemics but also to other disease epidemics, contributing to global health systems and security.
The international development community’s continuing support and engagement, particularly ensuring that earlier pledges are fully and quickly operationalized, will be critical to success.