Regional polio meeting opens in Beijing
BEIJING, 28 November 2012 - The 18th meeting of the Regional Commission for the Certification (RCC) of Poliomyelitis Eradication in the Western Pacific Region opened today. As an independent oversight body, the RCC will review the situation in China regarding the country’s polio-free status and also that of the Region. Participants at the meeting include representatives from national certification committees of all countries, senior national and provincial health experts from China, immunization advisors and representatives from key partner organizations. Dr Yu Jingjin, Director General, Bureau of Disease Control at the Ministry of Health, welcomed participants on behalf of the Government of China.
Significant items on the meeting agenda include an update on the current situation in polio endemic countries and lessons learnt from stopping transmission in India—the last endemic country recently declared polio-free. The state of surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis and vaccine-derived polioviruses will also be discussed. The epidemiology and response to the 2011 outbreak in China will be reviewed, leading to the confirmation of the country’s polio-free certification status. Rounding out the meeting will be sessions dealing with how to sustain polio-free status—encompassing immunization, surveillance, and working together beyond borders through partnerships.
Currently, polio remains endemic in only three countries in the world: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. With 193 cases in just 104 districts in four countries (data as of 20 November), incidence of the disease is at an all-time low. Despite these encouraging figures, Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific reminds us that to eradicate polio, “almost is not good enough.”