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Countries making efforts against polio, deficiencies at the sub-national level

Digital Desk, New Delhi. Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s regional director for South-East Asia, said countries in South-East Asia are making efforts against polio, but some shortcomings remain at the sub-national level.

He said that the South-East Asia Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication met here and reviewed the situation in the region. We need to update our polio outbreak response capabilities to increase surveillance and vaccination coverage and respond rapidly and timely in the event of a polio outbreak.

The two-day meeting this week was attended by the Chairs of National Certification Committees and the Global Certification Commission, donors, representatives of partner agencies and the WHO. The commission concluded that there are no cases of wild poliovirus or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (CVDPV) in the region, but the risk remains due to the continued spread of wild poliovirus type 1 in endemic countries bordering the region. , as well as because of this, CVDPV is being reported from many countries in other regions.

The Commission recommended that there is a need for continuous monitoring of the situation until global polio eradication is achieved. The regional director said that globally polio remains a public health emergency of international concern. Earlier this month, New York declared a state of emergency after the polio virus was detected in samples of wastewater. Cases of wild poliovirus type 1 have been reported in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malawi and Mozambique in recent months.

Today, coverage in the area of ​​bivalent oral polio vaccine and inactivated polio vaccine has improved for the most part since 2020, however, the trajectory in many countries remains a cause for concern, Khetrapal Singh said. While the region was able to maintain global surveillance standards throughout the COVID-19 response, there are variations at the national and sub-national levels that need to be addressed.

Emphasizing on maintaining adequate resources amidst extreme financial stress, Dr Khetrapal Singh said that enabling polio networks in the region would help polio-priority countries to become global leaders by strengthening the vaccination system and undertaking other public health actions. This will help maintain core capacity and infrastructure until polio eradication is achieved. The past two-and-a-half-three years have not been easy, but the region’s continued polio-free status is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the polio program workforce, many of whom have contributed significantly to COVID-19.

In the two-day meeting on 21-22 September, updates on the status of polio from the WHO’s Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, European and Western Pacific regions were also shared.


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