80% of World Population Now Live In WHO Polio Free Certified Region

80% of World Population Now Live In WHO Polio Free Certified Region

80% of World Population Now Live In WHO Polio Free Certified Region

In the last week of March 2014, WHO South-East Asia Region was certified polio-free by an independent commission under the WHO certification process for polio eradication. WHO South-East Asia Region is home for 25% of world population and include 11 member states India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives,  Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Timor-Leste. With certification of polio free status to WHO South-East Asia Region, approximately 80% of world population now lives in polio free regions.

South-East Asia Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication or SEA-RCCPE elaborately discussed for two days and reviewed the evidence from 11 countries before reaching the decision in New Delhi, headquarter of WHO South-East Asia Region. SEA-RCCPE contain experts in public health, epidemiology, virology, clinical medicine and related specialties.

The polio-free certification process is long and require various aspects to be fulfilled, such as (1) at least three years of zero confirmed cases of polio, due to indigenous wild polio-virus, (2) high quality laboratory based polio surveillance, (3) safe containment of polio-viruses in laboratories (4) capacity to detect, report, and respond to imported cases of poliomyelitis in the region etc. WHO South-East Asia Region was certified polio-free after conforming to all the above mentioned aspects of polio eradication.

The polio-free certification will make it possible to for the region (WHO South-East Asia Region) to introduce inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), instead of currently used oral polio vaccine (OPV) in current routine immunization program. The OPV will be gradually phased out. The 11 countries of WHO South-East Asia Region will introduce IPV by 2015.

A word of caution:

It is certainly a great achievement by WHO South-East Asia Region to get polio-free certification, but the region need to be careful and remain highly vigilant against importation of polio from other regions. Because until polio is completely eradicated from the face of the globe, the risk remains and all countries are vulnerable to re-introduction of polio, unless they remain extremely vigilant. The only way to prevent re-introduction of polio from other region is to maintain high immunization coverage to prevent imported virus from finding an under-immunized, susceptible population. High quality surveillance system, that is able to quickly detect and identify any importation and guide a programmatic response, is important too.

The great aim:

The aim of WHO and the world is to eradicate polio from the face of the world by 2018. Lets join hands to achieve the goal of polio eradication by 2018, which is going to be as great an achievement as that of small pox eradication.

 

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