The World Health Organization have certified the WHO South-East Asia region as polio-free
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced today that the South-East Asia region (SEAR) has been declared officially polio-free.
This certification means that 11 countries in the South-East Asia region are now polio-free: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste
In order for a region to be certified as polio-free, a number of requirements must be met by the region and the countries within it:
- At least three years of zero confirmed cases due to indigenous wild poliovirus
- Excellent laboratory-based surveillance for poliovirus
- A demonstrable capacity to detect, report and respond to imported cases of poliomyelitis
- Assurance of safe containment of polioviruses in laboratories
Much of the progress that has been made over the past decade has come from improved patient access to oral polio vaccines (OPV) through increased efforts to map populations in order to identify and reach the most vulnerable sections of the SEAR population. for the most part, these vulnerable populations were children.
The hope now is that the improved infrastructure and information used to eradicate polio in the region, can now be used to treat and prevent other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, dengue, malaria and tuberculosis.
The countries are now preparing to move away from oral polio vaccines and towards inactivated polio vaccines (IPV) as part of a wider shift across the world towards IPVs. currently 120 countries are using OPVs and are set to make the change to IPVs by 2015 in a bid to meet the WHO’s ambition of a polio free world by 2018.
|Facts about polio certification