Lessons Learned from Polio Eradication

Following three decades of efforts to eradicate polio, a key component of transition planning is capturing and sharing the lessons of polio eradication for the benefit of other health and development programmes.

Over the course of more than a quarter of a century, the GPEI has amassed an extensive body of experience and lessons that need to be documented in a way that can be used by audiences outside of the polio programme, both for the records of how the eradication of one of the only human diseases ever has been achieved, and to aid the achievement of other health goals. Each country and region has its own unique experience of eradicating polio, and local knowledge has been incorporated into the programme providing an essential component of its success in each case. The lessons we have learned are not only from our successes, but also where challenges or failure led to innovation and improvement.

These lessons have value for current and future programmes both at a global level and for adapting to local challenges. The programme has been sustained through commitment, advocacy and resourcing despite multiple setbacks since 1988. But its adherence to independent monitoring and accountability at a global level, and strong accountability and coordinated implementation at national and subnational levels has brought us very close to success. If done right, these lessons can be documented in a way that can be adopted and operationalized by other health programmes where appropriate to create real benefits.

Tools for Documenting Lessons Learned