Polio Eradication Transition Presents Questions For WHO, Funding Challenges

The Lancet: Polio transition: overlooked challenges
Oliver Razum, professor at Bielefeld University School of Public Health, and Maike Voss, researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs

“…The transition phase of polio eradication brings other challenges that are less obvious but equally demanding. … Planning for the so-called polio transition needs to move beyond measures to avoid reintroduction of the virus. Strategies and funding mechanisms need to be developed to maintain WHO’s experienced employee basis in Africa and the east Mediterranean and to maintain the routine immunization services and disease surveillance systems that were co-funded by the polio eradication program. Here, two fundamental questions arise: is it a responsibility of WHO to keep routine national health systems functioning? Accepting this responsibility would be a paradigm shift. If so, should this responsibility be restricted only to countries that recently received polio funding, or to all countries with weak health systems? These two questions must be answered urgently; without clear answers, WHO might be forced to begin a program to eradicate another pathogen, not because of a well considered and evidence-based decision but to raise the funds needed to keep essential elements of weak health systems operating” (4/7).

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