The WHO Southeast Asia Region remained polio-free despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but given the persisting and increasing risk of polio globally, measures need to be expanded.
“Even though countries have made efforts, gaps persist, especially at the local level. We need to update our response capacity,” said Dr Poonam Ketrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for Southeast Asia. The Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication has met here to review the situation in the region.
Chairs of national and global certification committees; representatives of donor agencies, partner agencies and WHO participated in a two-day meeting earlier this week.
The Commission concluded that there were no cases of wild poliovirus or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) in the region. However, the risk persists due to continued outbreaks of wild poliovirus type 1 in endemic countries adjacent to the region, and reports of cVDPV from several countries in other regions.
“The situation requires continued monitoring until global polio eradication is achieved,” the Commission recommended.
The Regional Director said globally polio is a public health emergency of international concern. Earlier this month, New York declared a state of emergency after poliovirus was detected in wastewater samples. In recent months, cases of wild poliovirus type 1 have been reported in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malawi and Mozambique.
In June, the 32nd Polio IHR Emergency Committee advised against the international spread of cVDPV2 or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2, given the outbreak of COVID-19 affecting routine immunization services in many countries. rated as high risk. cVDPV is dangerous in areas with low vaccination coverage.
“Today, bivalent oral and inactivated polio vaccine coverage in the region has largely stabilized or improved since 2020. However, trajectories in some countries continue to cause concern. says Dr. Ketrapal Singh.
While the region has been able to maintain global surveillance standards through its response to COVID-19, there are variations at the national and local levels that need to be addressed, she said.
Dr Ketrapal Singh stressed maintaining adequate resources amid enormous financial stress, enabling local polio networks to strengthen immunization systems and performing other public health functions. said it would help polio-priority countries maintain core capacities and infrastructure until global polio eradication is achieved.
“The past two and a half years, or almost three years, have not been easy, but the continued fight against polio in this region is a testament to the dedication and dedication of the polio program staff, many of whom have been affected by COVID-19. -19 has contributed greatly to the response and the unwavering determination of donors and partners,” said the regional director.
Updates on the polio situation were also shared from the WHO Africa Region, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, the WHO European Region and the WHO Western Pacific Region during the two-day meeting on 21 and 22 September.