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Polio Highlight

Dr Carissa F. Etienne Highlights Polio Eradication in her Confirmation Speech

Today, 231 January 2013, Dr. Carissa Etienne, a national from the Caribbean Island-country the Commonwealth of Dominica was officially installed as the new Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

In her confirmation speech, Dr. Etienne highlighted regional achievements: “A willingness to embrace innovation and to aim high has helped countries in the Americas eradicate polio, eliminate measles, dramatically increase access to antiretroviral treatments, and meet the health related Millennium Development Goals at the regional level – with the exception of maternal  mortality. I will continue to work with Member States to develop new and innovative approaches to deliver results with increased efficiency and coherence, and to share these experiences with all of WHO."

Read more here

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 17:33

WHO and UNICEF condemn attacks on health workers in Pakistan

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF join the Government of Pakistan and the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in condemning the multiple attacks that have killed nine health workers this week.

The attacks took place in several locations in Pakistan - Gadap, Landi, Baldia and Orangi towns of Karachi city, Sindh Province and Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Those killed were among thousands who work selflessly across Pakistan to eradicate polio.

The Government of Pakistan and the affected provinces have temporarily suspended the vaccination campaigns due to concerns over safety of health workers.

Such attacks deprive Pakistan’s most vulnerable populations – especially children – of basic life-saving health interventions. We call on the leaders of the affected communities and everyone concerned to do their utmost to protect health workers and create a secure environment so that we can meet the health needs of the children of Pakistan.

WHO, UNICEF and all their partners in Pakistan and globally express their deepest sympathy to the families of the health workers. We remain committed to supporting the Government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan in their efforts to rid the country of polio and other diseases.

Joint WHO/UNICEF Statement
18 December 2012



Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 14:22

Experts Call to Make Polio Vaccine a Prerequisite for Travelers from Endemic Countries

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which monitors the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is calling on the International Health Regulations Expert Review Committee to recommend by May 2013 that polio vaccination be required before travel for residents of polio-endemic countries. The IMB's November report says countries should require travelers from Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan to present valid polio vaccination certificates before allowing them to cross the border. "Some will see this as [an] extreme move, but it is necessary," says the report.

To read the full IMB November 2012 report go to

Global polio transmission will not be stopped by end-2012, but this year has brought the world a great stride closer to that goal

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative aimed to stop global polio transmission by the end of 2012. It is now certain to fail. That said, there has been substantial progress this year. There have been 175 polio cases worldwide so far in 2012: half the number of 2011, and less than 0.1% of the 350,000 cases in 1988 (the year when the GPEI began). Just 0.2% of the Earth’s land surface area is now infected with polio. The end of 2012 will not bring the end of polio, but we may now be seeing the polio virus make its last stand.

India has been removed from the list of polio endemic countries: a great achievement in the history of global public health. Angola and DR Congo have not had a polio case for over 10 months. Chad has reported only five cases this year. All four remain vulnerable to future polio importations and outbreaks: surveillance must be sensitive, and immunisation coverage high.

The Programme in Pakistan has improved significantly: less than half the number of polio cases this year than last. This trajectory of improvement must continue. The potential disruption of upcoming elections is of grave concern.

Afghanistan has recovered from a spike in polio cases in 2011 but has a lot more work to do. The rate of improvement is slow. The basic management challenges are clear. The solutions are written down, but need more speedy implementation.

Nigeria has hosted over half the world’s polio cases this year. It has reported more than twice as many cases in 2012 as it did in 2011. Cases are concentrated in a small number of Local Government Areas (LGAs). The power to eradicate polio from Nigeria now rests particularly with LGA Chairmen and Traditional Leaders. National & State Government, and GPEI Partners, must do everything to support them. There are green shoots suggesting that Nigeria’s Polio Programme is improving. These need rapidly to bloom, otherwise Nigeria will reinfect other countries as it has done before.

Summary is at:

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 December 2012 19:05
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