Western Pacific Region resolves to play its role in supporting global polio eradication
07 December 2012 - The recently held meeting of the Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (RCC) in Beijing concluded with two very positive assertions: that the 2011 polio outbreak in China following wild virus importation from Pakistan was controlled in an exemplary way, and that China and the whole Western Pacific Region have retained their polio-free certification status.
The RCC noted that China’s outbreak response held up to the stringent criteria set by the 2006 World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on wild poliovirus outbreaks in polio-free countries and recommended that the outbreak investigation and response actions undertaken in China in 2011 shall serve as model for any outbreak following virus importation. The response also beat the six months outbreak containment milestone of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Strategic Plan 2010–2012 and China’s efforts completely fulfilled the requirements of timely reporting by the International Health Regulations.
Fundamental factors of success of the outbreak response have been the extensive collaboration between health authorities and other sectors of the Chinese Government and the highly commendable intercountry and interregional coordination and collaboration with GPEI partners.
To safeguard its polio-free certification status, China has requested continued technical support from WHO, particularly to strengthen immunization and surveillance in border areas of Sichuan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Tibet and Xinjiang provinces.
The RCC also commended national certification committees (NCCs) throughout the Region on their high quality reporting and continued active oversight and recognized their conclusions and recommendations as critical to efforts in keeping the Region polio-free and the greater goal of global polio eradication.
In compliance with the 2012 WHA resolution declaring polio eradication as an international public health emergency, WHO Western Pacific Region will continue supporting countries in the implementation of programme requirements to stay polio-free. Additional measures are being considered to reduce the risk of new outbreaks caused by the international spread of wild polioviruses or the emergence of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses. These measures include supplementary and routine immunization activities to close gaps in population immunity, very high quality surveillance, and vaccination of travellers to and from polio-affected areas. WHO Western Pacific Region shall follow up on the regular risk assessment conducted by member countries and areas, and also ensure that their updated importation preparedness plans are in place.