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Polio Highlight

Progress towards polio eradication worldwide, 2013–2014

Progress towards polio eradication worldwide, 2013–2014

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 09:47

Remembering a Hero


Dr. Ciro de Quadros, a Brazilian epidemiologist who was a central figure in the eradication of polio from Latin America and the Caribbean, and a Public Health Hero of the Americas, passed away on May 28, 2014. His contributions and the impact he made on the world will live on forever.

In 1974 de Quadros founded the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) at PAHO, which encouraged and supported the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in making vaccines available for their populations that had previously been available only in wealthier countries. He was also the key figure behind the creation of the PAHO Revolving Fund for Vaccine Procurement, established in 1979, which pools demand for vaccines and other supplies, achieving economies of scale that allow participating PAHO member countries to purchase vaccines at low prices.

In addition to founding the EPI program at PAHO, de Quadros was influential in the development of the national immunization programs across the Americas, the training and development of human resources, the overall strategy of the regular program, and the planning and execution of vaccination campaigns. Under his leadership, the Americas became the first Region of the world to eradicate polio and to eliminate measles and rubella. His influence expanded to other Regions of the world as well. He was a visionary and a dreamer and has provided the Americas and the rest of the world with a strong example of public health excellence. 

In honoring de Quadros with this Public Health Hero award in April 2014, Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO, stated “We at PAHO believe that no single person has done more to extend the benefits of immunization to people throughout the Americas.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 17:16

Vaccination Week in the Americas, 26 April – 3 May 2014

The 12th celebration of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) will take place from 26 April - 3 May 2014 with the regional slogan: “Vaccination: Your best shot.” This slogan was chosen to encourage people to protect themselves and the Region against the importation of polio, measles, and other vaccine-preventable diseases, in the context of the mass sports gathering, where people from all over the world will come to our Region.

VWA is an extraordinary effort led by the countries and territories of the Region to advance equity and access to vaccination. VWA activities strengthen the national immunization programs in the Americas by reaching out to populations with little access to regular health services, such as those populations living in urban fringes, rural and border areas and in indigenous communities. Since its inception in 2003, more than 465 million individuals of all ages have been vaccinated during campaigns conducted under the framework of the initiative.

 VWA also provides a highly visible platform to raise population awareness regarding the importance of immunization and to keep the topic on the forefront of political agendas. To learn more about VWA, please visit Vaccination Week in the Americas.


New polio cases in Equatorial Guinea and Iraq

In Equatorial Guinea, one new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case was officially reported, the first in the country since 1999. Iraq notified a WPV1 case, the first in the country since 2000.

Equatorial Guinea
In Equatorial Guinea, one new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case was officially reported two weeks ago, the first in the country since 1999.  The case is from Centro Sur province, close to the border with Cameroon, and had onset of paralysis on 28 January 2014.  A second case with links to Equatorial Guinea has also been detected, with onset of paralysis on 31 January.  The child had lived in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, but was diagnosed in Yaoundé, Cameroon.  Genetic sequencing confirms these cases are related to WPV1 circulating in Cameroon.  This week, we elevated the assessed level of risk of international spread of polio from Cameroon to ‘very high’ (
Outbreak response in Equatorial Guinea  is currently being planned, including National Immunization Days (NIDs) with bivalent OPV on 11 April 2014.  Outbreak response in Cameroon is being intensified, focusing on urgently improving operations and strengthening surveillance so that the full extent of the outbreak can be determined and tracked.
At the same time, immunity levels and surveillance sensitivity are being assessed in neighbouring countries, in particular in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.  The Republic of Congo was affected by one of the deadliest polio outbreak in recent years in 2010 and 2011, which had resulted in 442 cases including more than 200 deaths (70% among young adults), and which had also spread to Gabon.  Additional immunization activities are being planned in these neighbouring countries.
In Iraq, it was received a notification of a WPV1 case, the first in the country since 2000.  The case, a six-month old boy from Baghdad who had not been immunized, developed onset of paralysis on 10 February 2014.  Genetic sequencing indicates the isolated virus is linked to WPV1 circulating in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.  A Disease Outbreak News notification has been published at the following link:
Iraq has been part of the regional Middle East emergency outbreak response, ever since confirmation of polio in the region was received in October 2013.  The next campaigns in the country are planned for 6-10 April.  A surveillance alert remains in place for the region to actively search for additional potential cases in addition to implementing the recommended SIAs with OPV.  The risk of further international spread across the region remains high.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 08:34
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