Building on Polio’s Legacy: Webinar Unveils Strategies to Transform Polio Investments into Resilient Health Systems

Last updated December 12, 2023

Written by: Elizabeth Thrush, Senior Polio & Immunization Advocacy Officer, and Subarna Bhattacharya, Global Health Communications Intern, United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation and the Civil Society Working Group on Polio Integration and Transition hosted a webinar on “Sustaining Polio Investments to Build Resilient Health Systems” on Thursday, November 16. With over 60 participants representing global, regional, and country-level stakeholders, this event provided a platform to discuss the new strategy for polio transition and the challenges associated with this process.

The event began with global and regional updates from WHO colleagues specifically regarding the new strategy, which recognizes the diverse needs and challenges for each region, pointing to the importance of country-specific timelines. The goal is to leverage polio investments to build strong, resilient, and equitable health systems, as well as addressing challenges presented by factors such as polio outbreaks, a decline in resources, and the impact of health emergencies such as COVID-19.

The panel discussion highlighted the collective responsibility of stakeholders, emphasizing the participation of national governments, WHO, UNICEF, development partners, and civil society. Participants also voiced country-specific challenges, with strategies discussed by representatives from South Sudan and Nigeria to address issues such as financial sustainability and community-based surveillance.

This webinar emphasized the collaborative effort required to achieve and maintain a polio-free world. All stakeholders, from national governments to civil societies, must play a crucial role in advocacy, community engagement, and collaboration with governments to ensure successful polio transition and the development of resilient health systems. The insights shared during this event contribute to the ongoing global effort to sustain polio investments and inspire a shared responsibility to achieve a polio-free world.

Watch the full webinar here or download a more detailed summary of key insights from the speakers and panelists here.

About the AuthorS

Elizabeth Thrush is the Senior Officer for Polio and Immunization Advocacy on the Global Health team at the United Nations Foundation. In this role, she provides advocacy support for UN Foundation’s polio and broader immunization portfolios. Prior to joining the UN Foundation, Elizabeth worked on the immunization team at the Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), providing support for the countries of the Americas on immunization and surveillance activities for polio and other vaccine preventable diseases. Elizabeth holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree focused on global health and behavior change communication from The George Washington University.

Subarna Bhattacharya is a Global Health Communications Intern at the United Nations Foundation. In this role, she supports the communications goals for the UN Foundation’s Global Health team’s various advocacy areas. Subarna is a current Master of Health Science in Epidemiology candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

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