Five polio-free years, efforts must continue: WHO

Kathmandu, January 12

The WHO Southeast Asia Region, comprising 11 member states, including Nepal, completes five years without any case of wild polio virus tomorrow.

“This is a remarkable achievement in view of the continued threat of polio virus importation from the remaining polio-endemic countries. Southeast Asian countries have been making commendable efforts, stepping up vigilance against polio and continuing to protect children against the crippling virus,” said a press statement issued by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia, today.

The region reported its last case of wild polio virus in West Bengal, India, in 2011, which facilitated polio-free certification of the region on March 27, 2014.

“Completing half a decade without any case of wild polio virus is an achievement and a reminder that we need to continue our effort until the disease is eradicated globally. We need to ensure that our efforts and investment over the years to eradicate the virus do not go waste. Globally, polio transmission is at its lowest levels. However, the risk of importation of the virus into all polio-free areas persists,” she said.

As part of the Polio End Game Strategy, countries in the region have been accelerating the introduction of one dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine in childhood immunisation schedules, along with plans for a globally synchronised, phased and sequential withdrawal of oral polio vaccines from the programme.

These strategies are aimed at addressing all polio – including the rare cases of vaccine derived polio.