Polio transition plan discussed  

Participants of the polio transition plan consultative meeting
Participants of the polio transition plan consultative meeting

The need to have a carefully outlined polio transition plan was highlighted at a consultative meeting that was held at Ellily International Hotel on April 10 and 11, 2017. During the meeting, it was noted that funding towards the eradication of polio is dwindling down globally, but polio is not completely eradicated from the world as yet.

The global polio eradication program is one of the largest public programs ever. It contributed not only to an immunization program but also the support and practice of other public health programs and interventions, underlined Girma Ashenafi, advisor to the State Minister of Health Dr. Kebede Worku in his opening remarks at the meeting.

“It is important to begin the transition of assets that we used for eradicating polio. Ethiopia like most other countries has benefited from assets and functions that were made available through the vast investment of the polio eradication program. With the imminent success of eradicating polio and associated reduction in funding, it is up to the government and partners to ensure that these investments are mainstreamed to maintain the polio free status of the country,” Girma stated. Ethiopia has maintained its polio free status since the last case was registered in January 2014.

Polio transition planning refers to a process of analysing the infrastructure, tools, functions and knowledge of the polio program at all levels and then successfully ramping them down or, where appropriate, transitioning them to other national or global health programs.

The goals of transition planning are to maintain polio-essential functions to ensure a polio-free world; where appropriate, transition Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)-created capacities, processes and assets to support other health priorities; and capture and disseminate the lessons of polio eradication.

“Ethiopia has been working on polio transition planning to mainstream the assets and planning used to eradicate polio to other public health programs. The planning process requires an in-depth analysis of the polio program resources in the country. The Federal Ministry of Health has established a polio legacy committee under the leadership of Maternal and Child Health Directorate to monitor and support the polio transition process. The committee was working on documenting the transition of polio assets and attempting to see how this asset can be aligned and support the country’s health priorities,” Girma also said.

Organized by the Polio Legacy Planning committee of the Ministry of Health, the consultative meeting is part of the planning process where stakeholders provide inputs in the analysis of the assets and ongoing supports to polio programs, the risks of withdrawal of polio resources and make recommendations on transition strategy and support the implementations.

The two day stakeholders’ consultative workshop was followed by another two days (12-13 April) face to face meeting of the transition management group of the global polio eradication initiative (GPEI) with focal persons from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Angola, Nigeria and Somalia.