Polio-free WHO South-East Asia Region
13 January marks the last case of wild polio in WHO South-East Asia Region. On this day a two-year-old girl in Howrah, West Bengal, India, was paralyzed by wild poliovirus
An intense response by Government of India, WHO and partners ensured it remained the last case of wild poliovirus in the country and the Region. This paved the way for polio-free certification of WHO South-East Asia Region on 27 March 2014.
Eight years on, the Region continues to be polio-free, thanks to the continued efforts being made by Member countries, WHO, partners, and the community themselves.
Every year 32 million children in WHO South-East Asia Region get three doses of oral polio vaccine under routine immunization programme. Additionally, India continues to conduct mass polio vaccination campaigns. 460 million doses of oral polio vaccines were given to children in 4 campaigns in 2018.
Surveillance for polio has been further strengthened. 75 000 stool samples were tested in 16 poliovirus laboratories in the Region in 2018.
Environmental surveillance has expanded three-fold – samples are now collected from 74 sites in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand. In 2014, environment surveillance was conducted only in India, from 23 sites.
While continuing to maintain a strict vigil against polio, the entire polio machinery is now geared towards strengthening routine immunization, which now includes injectable inactivated polio vaccines (IPV)– further boosting defense against polio.
Polio programme and its lessons are guiding efforts to achieve measles elimination and rubella control, a flagship priority programme in WHO South-East Asia Region.
“13 January – the last time that wild poliovirus crippled a child in WHO South-East Asia Region - is a reminder, to reach every child with polio vaccines and strengthen disease surveillance so that poliovirus does not return to cripple children in our Region” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia