POLIO [to 29 October 2016]

POLIO [to 29 October 2016]
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Polio this week as of 25 October 2016
:: 24 October marked World Polio Day, providing an opportunity to celebrate progress towards a polio-free world and the tireless efforts of many towards this goal. Rotarians and other partners across the world celebrated the day, by raising critical awareness of the need to complete the job. Click the following links for a selection of global awareness raising events marking World Polio Day: Rotary’s annual World Polio Day event; Getting to zero cases by Philanthropy Age; and Spotlight World Polio Day 2016.

: The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization (SAGE) met last week in Geneva, Switzerland. On polio eradication, the group expressed serious concern at the global supply situation of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), and strongly recommended that countries consider adopting fractional intradermal use of IPV in both routine and supplementary immunization activities, to reduce the volume of IPV needed to cover a population.

:: News from around the polio world:
Afghanistan National Emergency Action Plan 2016-2017; Recognizing Health Care Workers; and, the Fight to End Polio in Afghanistan

:: News from around the polio world:
Polio Programme Supports Anti-Fistula Efforts in Ethiopia
Containment: Shutting the Proverbial Door on Polioviruses

Country Updates [Selected Excerpts]
Pakistan
:: Three new WPV1 positive environmental samples were reported in the past week, all from Balochistan (Quetta, Pishin and Killa Abdullah), with collection dates in mid-September. Continued detection of environmental positives throughout 2016 confirms that virus transmission remains geographically widespread across the country, despite strong improvements being achieved.
:: Efforts continue to further strengthen immunization and surveillance activities in all provinces of the country.

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Major campaign launched to immunize 5.8 million Iraqi children against polio
Baghdad, Iraq, 25 October 2016 – On World Polio Day the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a weeklong nationwide campaign to immunize Iraq’s children against polio.

Under the slogan “two drops can change a life,” the 5-day campaign aims to reach an estimated 5.8 million children under the age of 5 in Iraq, regardless of previous vaccination status.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the nervous system. Children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, but timely immunization can prevent infection.
“The Government of Iraq is committed to polio eradication, and conducted 16 campaigns to that end in 2014 and 2015 as part of the Middle East polio outbreak response,” said UNICEF Representative in Iraq Peter Hawkins.

Since April 2014, no new polio cases have been reported in Iraq, thanks to the Government’s strong commitment and the hard work of frontline workers. In May 2015, Iraq was removed from the list of infected countries.

However, the risks of a resurgence persist due to possible surveillance and immunization coverage gaps among Iraq’s displaced populations as well as those living in inaccessible areas and informal settlements.

“There is still a risk of polio returning to Iraq,” said WHO Representative to Iraq, Altaf Musani. “Polio transmission is ongoing in Pakistan and Afghanistan and new cases of polio have also been confirmed in Nigeria,” he said. ”Until transmission is stopped globally, we need to maintain high levels of vaccination coverage and keep surveillance systems strong, to be on the alert for the virus,” he added.

The Iraq Polio partnership conducted 2 national immunization rounds in February and April this year, reaching over 91% of the targeted population.

This month’s vaccination campaign will be conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health (with support from WHO and UNICEF, with special attention to the most vulnerable children in internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Syrian refugee camps, informal settlements, host affected communities and newly retaken areas. More than 25 000 vaccinators will go from house to house during the campaign, visiting families.

WHO will cover the operational cost, intra and post campaign monitoring, while UNICEF will provide support for focused social mobilization services. In coordination with the Federal Ministry of Health, the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Health, Zain and Korek Telecommunications Company will contribute into social mobilization and communications campaign with a focus on IDPs.