Failure to stop spread of polio, Pakistan faces global travel curbs

May 21, 2014 | By | Reply More

May 21, – Pakistan’s failure to stem the spread of polio triggered global emergency health measures on Monday, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommending all residents to show proof of vaccination before they can leave the country.

hromedia Failure to stop spread of polio, Pakistan faces global travel curbs intl. news4“This has been recommended under International Health Regulations so it will be mandatory on all countries to seek certification of anti-polio vaccination from all Pakistanis travelling to their lands,” the WHO chief coordinator for polio eradication in Pakistan

According to the statement, the governments of these three countries shall ensure that all residents and long-term visitors (even foreigners) visiting for more than four weeks should receive a dose of the OPV or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) between four weeks and 12 months prior to international travel.

The heads of state should officially declare that the interruption of poliovirus transmission is a national public health emergency.

The government must also ensure that individuals undertaking urgent travel (within four weeks) who have not received a dose of OPV or IPV in the previous four weeks to 12 months, receive a dose of the polio vaccine at least by the time of departure.

It must also ensure that such travellers are provided with an ‘International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis’ to record their polio vaccination and serve as proof.

The emergency measures also apply to Syria and Cameroon, which along with Pakistan are seen as posing the greatest risk of exporting the crippling virus and undermining a UN plan to eradicate it by 2018.

Pakistan is in the spotlight as the only country with endemic polio that saw cases rise last year. Its caseload rose to 93 from 58 in 2012, accounting for more than a fifth of the 417 cases globally in 2013.

The virus has recently spread to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Syria, and has been found in sewage in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and greater Cairo, said WHO assistant director general Bruce Aylward. It also appeared in China two years ago.

“In the majority of these re-infected areas, the viruses circulating actually trace back to Pakistan within the last 12-18 months,” Aylward told reporters on a conference call.

Pakistan has called an emergency meeting of senior provincial and federal health officials for Wednesday to finalise how to implement the new requirements.

“The best option would be vaccinating the passengers at the airport departure where polio vaccination cards would be issued to the passengers. Human resource and vaccines would have to be worked out for the purpose,” state minister for health services Saira Afzal Tarar said in a televised broadcast.


Health and science writer for HRO media – Dr. Carlos Ricardo contributed to this report.

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Category: Health and Fitness, International

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