WHO re-assesses spread of wild poliovirus as designated international threat

Last week, the World Health Organization met with leaders from Cameroon, Guinea, Pakistan and Syria to re-evaluate the efficiency of efforts to combat the international spread of wild poliovirus.

Earlier this year, WHO declared the spread of polio an international public health emergency and issued temporary recommendations to stem the rate of infection. Leaders from the affected countries presented information on the implementation of WHO's suggestions.

Despite efforts by national leaders to prevent the spread of polio, however, WHO said at the meeting that the virus still remains a threat to the international community.

"While recognizing and appreciating these efforts, the Committee noted that the application of the Temporary Recommendations by affected States Parties remains incomplete," WHO said. "Additional efforts are required to declare and/or operationalize national emergency procedures, to improve vaccination coverage of international travelers and to ensure eradication strategies are fully implemented to international standards in all infected and high risk areas."

Since May, the spread of wild poliovirus has occurred in Central Asia, from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and a polio virus of Guinean origin was recently reported in the Americas. Other countries affected by the virus that are not designated by WHO as "exporting" the virus include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia.

The WHO will meet again in three months to reassess the spread of the virus and determine whether it still constitutes an international public health concern.