The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is an initiative created in 1988, just after the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate the disease poliomyelitis by the year 2000. It was described by the World Health Organization as the largest public health initiative in history.
The strategy for the eradication of polio rests on immunizing every at risk child until there is no one left for the disease to transmit to and the disease eventually dies out. The Initiative is spearheaded by the following Organizations in the form of multistakeholder governance:
Key tactics used by the GPEI include strengthening childhood immunization through oral vaccines, conducting surveillance through investigation of acute flaccid paralysis cases among children under 15 years old (in order to determine areas where the virus is truly eradicated), and conducting "mop up" campaigns in areas where cases of polio have been identified.
By 2012 the GPEI had raised 9 billion dollars in funding and in alone 2011 the GPEI received a 1.1 billion dollars, for a budget of 0.98 billion dollars. 30% of their funding came from the Gates Foundation 30% from developed governments, 27% from countries at risk of polio, and the rest was made up of donations from non profits, private funders, and other foundations. It is likely that the GPEI will become almost entirely funded by private organizations in the future.
In 1995 a Global Certification Commission was created to oversee the certification of the eradication of wild-type poliovirus transmissions. Certification for the six WHO regions requires all of the countries in that region to be certified by the commission. By the year 2000 both the regions of the Western Pacific and the Americas met the criteria to be certified free of polio transmissions. By 2012 the initial number of estimated cases in 1988 of 350,000 across 125 endemic countries had dropped to 650 confirmed cases. In addition, three of the six WHO regions are now certified polio eradicated (Europe, the Americas, The West Pacific). India, which many thought would face the greatest challenge to eradication was removed from the list of endemic countries. According to the most recent study by the GPEI, in 2016, there are only three countries still listed as endemic, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is owing to this dramatic reduction that the funding for the GPEI will likely soon come entirely from private donors and foundations such as the Gates Foundation instead of from individual countries. In fact Bill Gates has listed polio eradication as one of his "Top Personal Priorities".
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has significantly helped fund and support the GPEI. It was their efforts with helping to eradicate polio in India that allegedly resulted in 47,500 cases of death or paralysis according to an MSNBC article. However, rumor verification websites dispute the claims, and the article no longer appears to be on MSNBC's website.
The final steps of polio eradication for the GPEI, or what is known as the "endgame" are as follows: