To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the global effort to eradicate polio.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted essential health services worldwide. Polio eradication is no exception and polio vaccination campaigns were paused in order to ensure the safety of health workers and communities.
During this pause, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has pivoted effectively to respond to COVID-19. It has provided personal protective equipment, trained health workers, contributed to COVID-19 surveillance, and informed communities on prevention measures. This is a clear example of how the UK’s investment in the polio programme strengthens global health security systems more broadly.
GPEI has resumed vaccination campaigns in Africa and is due to start in Asia in the coming weeks. Two million children in Afghanistan and Pakistan are due to receive polio vaccines next week [20th July].
As a result of the pandemic, there is an increased risk of polio and other infectious disease outbreaks. As such, support for GPEI is more critical than ever. The UK is fully committed to polio eradication.