WHO Believes The Spread Of Polio Is An International Public Health Emergency

May, 6, 2014: Latest statement by WHO declares the spread of polio as an international public health emergency.

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes the spread of polio is an international public health emergency.

In a statement released on Monday, it advised the states exporting and infected with wild poliovirus to officially declare, at the level of head of state or government, that the interruption of poliovirus transmission is a national priority.

According to the statement, "If unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world's most serious vaccine preventable diseases."

WHO statistics show that by the end of last year, 60 percent of polio cases resulted from the international spread of the virus.

Poliovirus Exporting Countries

 The organization has listed three countries, Pakistan, Cameroon, and Syria, as the states currently exporting poliovirus.

Among these states, Pakistan is one of the worst affected by the crippling disease. In 2014, 59 cases of polio, out a total 74 worldwide, were recorded in the country.

Travel restrictions have been imposed on all three countries until they meet the criteria to be assessed as no longer exporting wild poliovirus. The restrictions require citizens of those countries traveling internationally to be vaccinated before their departure and carry proof in the form of an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

Prevention Measures

The statement contained several measures to prevent the spread of the disease, apart from the travel restrictions for exporting states.

The countries infected with the virus, but not exporting currently exporting it, include Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Somalia, among others. These countries are also instructed to take prevention measures to ensure high levels of vaccination in residents and travelers.

"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop this international spread of wild poliovirus and to prevent new spread with the onset of the high transmission season in May/June 2014," said the statement.

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