Saturday, March 29, 2014

South-East Asia Region: Certified Polio Free

Dear All,

Today, on 27th 
South-East Asia 
 is officially declared 
 This is an opportunity to look at progress the region has made advancing children’s health, highlight the power of vaccines, and encourage continued political and financial support for polio eradication.
 1.8 billion
 people across 
11 countries
 are polio-free thanks to unprecedented commitment from governments, exceptional program quality, and the dedication of millions of community health workers and volunteers.

o In 2007, there were approximately 
 polio cases 
in SEAR – 
 of all polio cases worldwide. The region has not reported a case since 2011.

o Between 1995 and 2013, the polio program conducted at least 
189 nationwide polio campaigns
and administered more than 
13 billion OPV doses
 across the region.

o India, once deemed the most difficult place to end polio, recorded its 
last case in January 2011 
– a remarkable triumph that opened the door for the entire region to be certified polio-free.

More than 
3 million front-line workers
 across South Asia (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) provided oral polio vaccine to children under 5.

 Ending polio in these countries—some of which have been polio-free for more than 15 years—forged strong systems that are now being used to advance other health priorities.

o In several countries, 
high-performing polio surveillance systems
 have been expanded to track other vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, neonatal tetanus, and Japanese encephalitis.

o In Bangladesh, immunization coverage for essential vaccines (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) rose from
82% to 96% 
between 2000 and 2012, in a period of intense polio eradication activity; in Nepal, the rate went from 
74% to 90%
In order to protect gains against polio, we must remain committed to 
improving routine immunization and maintaining sensitive surveillance

Recent outbreaks in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa—both linked to virus from endemic countries—are proof that as long as polio exists anywhere, it is a threat everywhere.

Dr. Naveen Thacker

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