The GPEI History Project

Upon request from the Polio Oversight Board in 2016 to document the history of GPEI, the partnership designated a cross-institutional team composed of members of the core partner agencies – Rotary International (RI), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMFG) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – and hired staff to execute the project. The main objective of the GPEI History Project is to ensure documentation of the history of global polio eradication, the global partnership, and lessons learned, and recognize those involved in the efforts. This history will be presented in an online repository, available to the general public and future researchers.

Currently, all GPEI partners are focusing on their individual institutional polio histories. This new partnership approach will take a broad global perspective and focus on the successes of the global collaboration over the 30 years of its existence.

The history project has the following main objectives:

  • Identifying existing archival and historical collections held by the GPEI partners and other organizations with a significant role in polio eradication. This includes archival collections, publications, artifacts, moving images, sound recordings, and oral histories.
  • Identifying gaps in the archival record and resolving access barriers to those records.
  • Conducting oral histories of selected individuals who represent the histories of polio eradication operations and tactics (especially in-country and on-the-ground implementation), social and political mobilization, policy development and strategic planning, partnership management and donor coordination, and oversight and independent monitoring. Individuals include polio survivors, workers from around the world, and underrepresented or marginalized groups to ensure a balanced, multi-vocal narrative.

The history project intends to bring the story of the eradication of polio and the GPEI to a broader audience both now and after eradication by collaborating with the David J. Sencer CDC Museum and other museums.