GPEI statement on COVID-19

A moral imperative to stand together

The COVID -19 pandemic response requires worldwide solidarity and an urgent global effort. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), with thousands of polio workers, and an extensive laboratory and surveillance network, has a moral imperative to ensure that these resources are used to support countries in their preparedness and response.

In Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio personnel and assets have a significant footprint, workers from all GPEI partners are pitching in with COVID-19 surveillance, health worker training, contact tracing, risk communications and more. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a core GPEI partner, has deployed Stop Transmission of Polio programme (STOP) volunteers already working on polio eradication in 13 countries, to COVID-19 preparations and response.

We recognise that the COVID-19 emergency means that some aspects of polio eradication programme will be affected. GPEI is currently finalising operational guidelines and contingency plans for the polio eradication programme to determine what assets can be deployed to COVID-19 preparedness and response and to identify which critical activities must continue if polio eradication is not to lose ground.  We will continue to communicate on plans as they evolve.

In solidarity with the most vulnerable, the polio programme will share its assets to ensure this new epidemic is defeated as quickly as possible. Our commitment to eradication is firm; our commitment to stand together against COVID-19 is now.

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