The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Peru coordinate efforts to strengthen the response of health personnel to a polio event or outbreak

Polio workshop in Peru

Lima, Peru, June 22, 2023. More than 90 surveillance, laboratory, immunization, and communication professionals from different health regions of the country participated in the workshop "Standard Operating Procedures of the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to a poliovirus event or outbreak, and implementation of the recommendations for strengthening polio surveillance" which aimed to strengthening the capacities of health workers, concepts, and processes during the response to a polio event or outbreak.

The PAHO/WHO Representative in Peru, Dr. Carlos Garzón Becerra and authorities from the Ministry of Health joined the launch event.  "We recognize the efforts the country is making to improve its surveillance indicators as well as vaccination coverage, not only for polio, but also to close the gaps in the National Immunization Schedule," said Garzón in his opening speech.

Taller sobre polio en Perú

Strategies to strengthen surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), risk communication and community participation, risk mitigation plans, case definition, laboratory diagnosis, among other topics, were addressed in this activity led by specialists from WHO, PAHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (US CDC).

"The risk of resurgence of diseases such as polio due to low vaccination coverage in the Americas region has prompted countries to prepare their health personnel for possible outbreaks," said Dr. Anne Eudes Jean Baptiste, PAHO's Regional Polio Advisor.  "Our team is very pleased to support Peru in the implementation of its immunization and surveillance activities to keep Peruvian children safe," she added.

For her part, Dr. Ivy Lorena Talavera, PAHO Immunization Advisor in Peru said, "As PAHO we will continue the joint work and technical cooperation with the Ministry of Health to ensure that communities remain polio-free."

In addition to the topics covered, participants had the opportunity to carry out simulation exercises of polio outbreaks and events response.

This workshop is expected to be a contribution to the actions of the Ministry of Health within the framework of the Supreme Decree dated May 25, 2023 and the response to the Health Emergency due to the high risk of polio and measles outbreak in the departments of Amazonas, Arequipa, Lambayeque, Lima, Loreto, Madre de Dios, Moquegua, Puno, San Martin, Tacna, Tumbes, Ucayali and the Constitutional Province of Callao.

Taller sobre polio en Perú

The Americas region was certified polio-free in 1994 and currently there is a worldwide work for the eradication of wild poliovirus type 1, which is endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  In addition, circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) events have alerted several countries to continue working to prevent a polio event or outbreak and prepare to respond in a timely and effective manner. VDPVs can occur in a population with no high vaccination coverage rates.

On September 29, 2022 during the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, the Member States pledged to keep the Americas region polio-free. In this regard, and as part of technical cooperation and commitment to the health and well-being of communities, PAHO will continue to work with countries to ensure that polio does not return to the region.