Global Polio Eradication Initiative

Partnership Objectives

  • Interrupting wild poliovirus transmission in Asia and Africa. 
  • Enhancing poliovirus surveillance and outbreak response.
  • Strengthening immunization system.
  • Minimize the risks of poliovirus re-introduction and the emergence of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).

Copyright Sanofi Pasteur

Description of the health needs
Polio is a disease that has nearly disappeared from the collective consciousness, yet it continues to trigger epidemic outbreaks in certain countries of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in India and the Middle East. Although the number of cases has dropped by over 99% since 1988, polio remains a devastating disease for the people it strikes. Polio is still endemic in three countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and the infection has reappeared in several countries. That is how, since 2003, annual case numbers have fluctuated between 1000 and 2000, and between 12 and 23 countries every year have reported polio cases due to imported polioviruses. . In light of the current situation, the challenge for Sanofi Pasteur is to continue to play a decisive role in eradicating the disease.

Description of partnership activities
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments and spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Sanofi Pasteur has been a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since it was launched by the WHO in 1988. Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free. Cross-cutting technical innovations and operational approaches are institutionalized in a 2010-2012 Strategic Plan to improve program performance.

How challenges are addressed by the partnership activities
Sanofi Pasteur plays a major and leading role in the immunization and eradication effort.
As a pioneer in the development of the polio vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur is today the world’s number one supplier of polio vaccines. The Group provides both the injectable and oral vaccines, IPV and OPV. Since 1988, Sanofi Pasteur has supplied over five billion doses of polio vaccine. Between 1997 and 2005, Sanofi Pasteur donated more than 120 million doses for polio eradication to respond to emergency situations in war-torn African countries. More recently, following a request from UNICEF, the Group committed to supplying 400 million doses for use in developing countries in 2011 and 2012.

Sanofi Pasteur also invests in Research and Innovation to develop new medicines to eradicate polio. When an epidemic broke out in Egypt and at the request of the WHO, the Group developed the first monovalent oral polio vaccine, which contributed to eliminating the disease in this country: Egypt was certified polio-free in 2006. Sanofi Pasteur also developed a bivalent vaccine that is used increasingly for the global eradication effort.

Lessons learned
The eradication of polio needs a global approach. First, it must include all endemic countries but also have an approach of countries with re established transmission as well as those susceptible to import the disease.  In addition of the vaccine supply, a strong political engagement is crucial but also the mobilization of the community and oversight community mobilization.

Summary of impact through December 2011 and looking forward 
Huge achievements have been made in the global fight against polio since 1988, when the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate the disease. The number of polio cases worldwide has decreased by more than 99%, from 350 000 in 1988 to less than 2000 cases in 2009 - a99% decrease in the number of cases worldwide between 1988 and 2010. An estimated 5 million people have been saved from polio-related paralysis. The number of endemic countries decreased from over 125 in 1988 to just four – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan – by the end of 2006.

Sanofi Pasteur will continue to maintain its important historic role and commitment to vaccination. In the future, the Group is convinced that the use of injectable vaccines will increase. Sanofi Pasteur offers an industrial solution that enables mass production of IPV on a global scale. Following the eradication of smallpox, polio is expected to be the second infection to be eradicated worldwide, thanks in part to the contributions of Sanofi Pasteur.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Sanofi

Partner(s) UNICEF, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rotary International, World Health Organization

Type of Partner(s) Government, NGOs, IGOs

Therapeutic Focus Preventable Diseases

Disease(s) Polio

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Development of physical infrastructure, Availability of Treatment - Product donations, Health System Infrastructure - Training

Targeted Population(s) Patients in needs of treatment, Children

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 6

Beneficiary Country(ies) Indonesia, Egypt, Arab Rep., Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nigeria

Start Date 1988

Anticipated completion date Ongoing