Southeast Asian countries urged to prevent polio resurfacing

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday urged the southeast Asian countries to ensure all necessary steps are taken to prevent the resurfacing of polio cases in the region.

The global health organisation has stated that even if globally, polio transmission is at its lowest ever levels, the risk persists for importation of the polio virus into all polio-free areas.

“We need to ensure that our efforts and investments over the years to eradicate polio do not go waste,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for WHO southeast Asia region.

Countries in the region have been making commendable efforts, stepping up vigilance against polio and continuing to protect children against the crippling virus,” she said.

According to WHO, on January 13, the southeast Asian region will complete five years without any case of wild polio virus.

This is a remarkable achievement in view of the continued threat of polio virus importation from the remaining polio-endemic countries.

WHO southeast Asia 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.

Talking about the new steps on polio prevention initiatives, Khetrapal said: “Countries in the region are accelerating introduction of one dose of injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in childhood immunization schedules.”

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