With polio eradication on the horizon, The Task Force is working with other global health agencies to determine how best to transition polio-specific public health infrastructure to other health priorities.
Since the development of the polio vaccine in 1955, the global polio program has often operated separately from other health programs. Polio programs have benefitted immunization services and overall health systems, but have had their own buildings, equipment, surveillance systems, and human resources.
Earlier this year, The Task Force began working with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary International, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the Transition Management Group (TMG) to ensure that the public health infrastructure developed for polio programs can be used for other health needs after polio funding ends in 2017.
The TMG is supporting 16 countries in developing plans to transition their polio eradication resources to other disease control programs. These countries, including Somalia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and South Sudan, were selected due to political instability, low income, or weak health infrastructure, which leaves them vulnerable to disease outbreaks.
“Our goal is to ensure that all the infrastructure gains made in polio eradication, especially in these fragile states, aren’t lost,” said Task Force Project Manager Chantal Veira, MBA. “We want to retain the best of what this program has to offer and apply it to other health initiatives.”
The TMG is working with countries to complete their specific polio transition plans by mid-2017.
The Task Force is compiling lessons learned and best practices from polio eradication, including the TMG’s work, to help inform other health and development initiatives. The first in a series of publications is a supplement for The Journal of Infectious Diseases that is expected to be published in summer 2017.
Polio is poised to become the second human disease ever eradicated. Today, the disease persists in only Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.