Why invest in polio eradication?
UAE, partners, and donors in attendance as Global Polio Eradication Initiative introduces 2019-2023 Investment Case
On 9 September 2019, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners and the United Arab Emirates co-hosted an informal reception as a pre-event ahead of the Polio Pledging Moment in the United Arab Emirates’-hosted Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi, in November 2019. The GPEI also presented the 2019-2023 GPEI Investment Case.
The reception brought together GPEI stakeholders including, Rotary International, His Excellency Obaid Saleem Saeed Al Zaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), representatives from the UAE; WHO Director-General and Chair of the GPEI Polio Oversight Board, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; partners, and representatives from donor countries.
Following the GPEI Endgame Strategy 2019-2023, which spells-out a comprehensive five-year plan to ‘finish the job,’ the 2019-2023 Investment Case presents an economic case for investing in polio eradication as an important public health cause. Committing to eradication and achieving the goal of reaching every last child with the polio vaccine, an estimated US$ 14 billion are expected in cumulative cost savings by 2050, with efforts to eradicate polio having already saved more than US$27 billion since 1988. The need of the hour now is a bold financial and political commitment from leaders, donors, and governments around the world to rally behind a polio-free future.
As the GPEI launches its new investment case for 2019-2023, it recognizes important stakeholders who have gotten the programme to where it is today. One of the most notable donors is His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has been a critical partner and champion of the GPEI. His support has helped spur significant progress toward stopping polio in the remaining endemic countries, with a specific focus on strengthening immunization efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2018, the GPEI was proud to announce that His Highness’ support for polio eradication activities through the GPEI and the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme and helped deliver 417 million vaccines to protect some of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach children in the highest risk districts across the country.
Starting off the reception, His Excellency Obaid Saleem Saeed Al Zaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), gave insight into the UAE’s long-standing commitment to polio eradication efforts: “UAE, together with its partners, has played a leading role in polio eradication, has supported the delivery of vaccines to protect over 16 million children…and supported polio outbreak efforts in Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. For the implementation of the GPEI Endgame Strategy 2019-2023, which aims for a world free of wild poliovirus, the UAE in cooperation with the WHO will host a pledging event in Abu Dhabi in November 2019.”
WHO Director-General and Chair of the GPEI Polio Oversight Board, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also recognized the strong political and financial will of the donors —spanning over decades— which have helped the GPEI mark important milestones on the road to global polio eradication. “We have made good progress in accessing hard-to-reach communities…increasing cross-border efforts, enhancing surveillance, improving Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIAs), and focusing on social and behavioural change.”
“Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in the number of cases this year. This is a reminder that polio eradication is not a forgone conclusion…the last mile is the hardest. This will take a determined and unrelenting effort from all of us. Global progress to end polio would not be possible without partners like the UAE. On behalf of our partners at the GPEI, I would like to thank His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the UAE – a long-time supporter of the polio programme – for agreeing to host the GPEI pledging event on 19 November.”
Rounding off the event, Chair of Rotary International Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force, Judith Diment, officially presented the GPEI 2019-2023 Investment Case and called for concerted global efforts —both political and financial— to ensure that the hard-won gains in the fight against polio see us through the finish line. “Building on past progress and overcoming remaining hurdles requires continued support and (polio eradication) is a sound value-added investment. Today, we are proud to present the new 2019-2023 GPEI Investment Case…and thank all our partners for their input. This support and engagement are invaluable, given that this is a document that argues that polio can be eradicated but only with sufficient financial and political support. To ensure success, the Initiative needs US$ 3.27 billion through 2023… any investor is looking for measurable progress, tangible dividends, and return on investment— the GPEI has all of these. Rotary looks forward to joining all partners to make a funding pledge in Abu Dhabi, and to continued collaboration towards the fulfilment of a polio-free world from which we will all reap the dividends in perpetuity.”
The informal reception serves as a pre-event to the Reaching the Last Mile (RLM) Forum in November 2019, which will convene global health leaders to find solutions, best practices and eradication strategies to the most pressing health concerns of our times, including the global eradication of poliovirus. On the sidelines, the GPEI will also be hosting the Polio Pledging Moment to secure funding for the implementation of the Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-2023.