MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

GAVI to support polio vaccination in world's poorest countries

The GAVI Alliance announced on Friday that it will start providing support for inactivated poliovirus vaccine as part of routine immunization programs in the world's 73 poorest nations.

GAVI's board of directors endorsed opening a window of support for IPV for countries considered to be GAVI-eligible and countries graduating from GAVI support. The decision will allow GAVI to help countries reach more children with the life-saving vaccines. The alliance will help the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the World Health Organization in their attempt to eradicate the disease as part of a polio endgame strategy.

"Supporting IPV introduction is an historic decision that supports the polio endgame strategy and benefits the world's poorest and most marginalized children," Dagfinn Høybråten, the board chair for GAVI, said. "In some parts of India, which have struggled with the life-long disabilities and deaths caused by polio for generations, we have already seen how polio and routine immunization programs can be linked to help boost coverage. It is a classic example of the importance of combining resources to extend reach and ensure that more children receive the protection they need and deserve, wherever they live."

In May, the World Health Assembly called on countries to introduce at least one dose of IPV and start the phased removal of oral polio vaccines as part of the new Polio Eradication & Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018. Removing oral polio vaccines would stop the risk of vaccine-associated polio outbreaks.

GAVI's decision may contribute to the eradication of wild poliovirus serotypes in the remaining polio-endemic countries of Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.