36 – From important to essential: routine immunisation, the GAVI Alliance and polio eradication

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The recent GAVI Board held in Tanzania approved GAVI playing a complementary role to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in the polio eradication effort, specifically through routine immunisation within GAVI’s strategy and mission using existing structures, processes and procedures

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Copyright GAVI/2010/Christine Nesbitt

The recent GAVI Board held in Tanzania from the 4-5 December 2012 approved GAVI playing a complementary role to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in the polio eradication effort, specifically through routine immunisation within GAVI’s strategy and mission using existing structures, processes and procedures.

The session discussed the plans for the GAVI Alliance and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) on the future following this GAVI Board decision.

The panel presented the current role of the GAVI Alliance and the alignment of polio eradication with the GAVI’s Alliance work. Routine immunisation was recognized as essential to the success of polio eradication in order to interrupt the last chains of transmission among the most vulnerable, hard to reach and the under-served communities, and to secure a polio-free world.

It was remarked that the GPEI has developed tools and knowledge that also benefits routine immunization and the huge successes in reducing the number of endemic polio countries to just three was universally recognised.

However, the risk of wild polio virus outbreaks remains high. It is now time to change the game by strengthening routine immunisation system in order to sustain these polio eradication achievements.

The panel identified possible synergies that could make difference including:

(i) micro planning linking polio campaigns to routine immunisation,

(ii) social mobilization using polio system to create demand;

(iii) monitoring & evaluation,

(iv) integrated surveillance for polio, Measles, Yellow fever and Neonatal Tetanus, and using human resources for polio on the ground also for routine immunisation activities.

This will also require enhancing direct support to immunisation without creating parallel investment. GAVI’s role will be to bring all partners together.

Country participants echoed the need to move from multiple campaigns per year to a more systematic approach that will ensure the delivery of a whole package of interventions with a high impact on health. The EPI manager from Senegal called for GAVI, WHO, UNICEF and BMGF to “support countries to maintain coverage – not only for increasing”.

As concluded by Bruce Aylward: “There is a big change today: emphasis on routine immunisation to achieve polio eradication”.

There is a whole range of activities conducted by Polio staff for routine immunisation, but their impact is not well measured.

The CEO from GAVI summarized: “ You need our money, we need your people on the ground”.

However GAVI’s role is not about polio eradication but to strengthen routine immunisation.

There is a need to start thinking about legacy planning following polio eradication.

The panel agreed on immediate actions that could be taken between GAVI and the GPEI to make the change more concrete: moving accountability of polio staff on the ground from polio indicators to routine immunisation indicators also.

At the next Partner’s Forum, the following results should be shown: Polio eradication with strong routine immunisation, improved equity and immunisation targets met.

+243,000,000

GAVI support will assist countries to immunise a further 243 million children from 2011 to 2015.

GAVI Alliance

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