Transition planning is a critical part of preparing for a polio-free world. The polio transition process aims to secure the infrastructure set up to eradicate polio and use it to support stronger, more resilient health systems.
Over many years, the GPEI has built significant infrastructure for disease surveillance, social mobilization, and vaccine delivery; developed in-depth knowledge and expertise; and learned valuable lessons about reaching the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations on earth.
As we come closer to eradicing polio, GPEI resources are being redirected away from polio-free countries to focus on achieving the two core goals of the Polio Eradication Strategy 2022-2026 – eradicating wild polio and responding to polio outbreaks. In polio-free countries, WHO and UNICEF, together with the national governments are working to ensure that critical infrastructure is transitioned to support broader health priorities. This will ensure that the most vital assets and staff are sustained to support health systems far into the future, especially in the areas of essential immunization, emergency preparedness and response and keeping the world polio-free. At WHO, this work is guided by the Strategic Action Plan on Polio Transition (2018 – 2023). Transition activities are overseen by the Polio Transition Independent Monitoring Board (TIMB).
Why do we need to transition polio assets?
To keep the world polio free
After polio has been eradicated, some activities and functions of GPEI will need to continue to make sure the world stays polio-free. These include:
- Proper storage of the virus in essential facilities so it isn’t accidentally or intentionally released
- Disease surveillance, to rapidly detect the re-emergence of the virus
- Outbreak response capabilities, for quick and effective response to any polio events
- Continued immunization, so that people are protected in the event of an outbreak
- A governance and management structure for these ongoing essential functions
National governments and GPEI partners must plan for these essential polio functions to be incorporated into existing public health programmes in order to keep the world polio-free.
In 2018, GPEI developed a polio Post-Certification Strategy to define, at a global level, the technical standards that will be needed in order to maintain a polio-free world.
To support broader health priorities
GPEI runs an extensive infrastructure of global disease surveillance systems, vaccine supply and logistics networks, and a network of over 140 polio laboratories. It has built significant communications and capacity building expertise, and developed thousands of skilled staff and millions of community based health workers, social mobilisers, and volunteers. GPEI’s operational capacities help reach populations in areas with little to no infrastructure.
This infrastructure already goes much further than polio eradication, supporting a wide range of health initiatives like essential immunization, including support to measles campaigns, maternal and child health programmes, humanitarian emergencies and disease outbreak, and sanitation and hygiene programmes.
The Strategic Action Plan on Polio Transition (2018 – 2023) outlines two areas, essential immunization and emergency response, where the transition of polio assets and infrastructure can assist with strengthening operations.
Capture and transfer lessons learned from polio eradication
GPEI has learned many valuable lessons on reaching hard-to-reach and high-risk populations, working in conflict affected areas, harnessing global commitment to a cause, and other challenging areas. A key component of transition planning is to capture and share these lessons for the benefit of the broader development community.
Learn more about capturing and sharing lessons learned
The Transition Independent Monitoring Board (TIMB) independently monitors and guides the transition planning process. The TIMB assesses the quality, timeliness, sufficiency and results of transition planning efforts. It reviews and offers feedback on the transition planning process, the plans themselves and the involvement of various stakeholders including government, GPEI, donors, and civil society.
Since the Strategic Action Plan on Polio Transition (2018 – 2023) was adopted, significant changes have taken place in the polio eradication and broader global health landscape. In this context, an independent Mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Polio Transition (2018 – 2023) was undertaken in 2022. WHO’s corporate management response to the evaluation aims to strengthen polio transition efforts by recognizing the key achievements, best practices, challenges, gaps and areas for improvement in the design and implementation of the Strategic Action Plan.
Looking to 2023 and beyond, efforts are focused on the implementation of concrete actions to bolster transition efforts at the regional and country levels, in collaboration with national governments, alongside key stakeholders and partners.
- Mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Polio Transition (2018–2023)
- Mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Polio Transition (2018-2023): Management Response – September 2022
- Annexes – Mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Polio Transition (2018–2023)