SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Rotary applauds WHO's polio reccomendations

Rotary recently expressed its support for WHO Director-General Margaret Chan's recommendation of polio as a public health emergency of international concern.

Chan requested that countries that actively export the wild poliovirus and all polio-endemic countries ensure that their residents and long-term travelers are immunized against the disease prior to travel.

Sixty percent of polio cases at the end of 2013 were the result of the international spread of wild poliovirus, the WHO said, and increasing evidence has been presented that adult travelers contributed to the spread.

Additionally, there has already been an international spread of wild poliovirus from three of the 10 infected states during the 2014 low transmission season, including from Pakistan to Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic to Iraq and from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea.

For the states that are currently exporting wild poliovirus - Pakistan, Cameroon and the Syrian Arab Republic - the WHO recommended an official declaration that the interruption of poliovirus transmission is a national public health emergency. The WHO also said that the states should ensure vaccinations for all residents and long-term visitors, that those undertaking urgent travel receive the vaccine by the time of departure, and that such travelers are provided with an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in the form specified in Annex 6 of the International Health Regulations (2005) to record their polio vaccination and serve as proof of vaccination.

Such measures, according to the WHO, should be maintained until at least six months have passed without new exportations and there is documentation of full application of high quality eradication activities in all infected and high risk areas.

Once a state has met the criteria to be assessed as no longer exporting wild poliovirus, it should continue to be considered as an infected state until such time as it has met the criteria to be removed from that category, the WHO said.