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Friday, August 26, 2011

WHO : Polio kicked out of Europe - European Region to retain polio-free status, but constant vigilance is needed

Press release from WHO regional Europe office :

" The European Regional Certification Commission for Poliomyelitis Eradication (RCC) announced yesterday that Europe will retain its polio-free status after the importation of wild poliovirus type 1 in 2010. At their 25th meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark this week, the RCC noted that wild poliovirus transmission has been interrupted. No new cases have been reported since September 2010 because countries have taken effective action.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, commented, “The RCC decision is tremendous news for the Region and a credit to all the Member States and partners that individually, collectively and promptly combated the first and largest outbreak of poliomyelitis the Region has seen since it was declared polio free in 2002. I am also very pleased that the hard work and personal commitments of the presidents, prime ministers and health ministers have produced this success, which shows the importance and value of political commitment and joint action. The WHO Regional Office for Europe will continue to work with Member States so that Europe remains vigilant and the polio-free status of the Region is sustained”.

In 2010, four countries, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, reported 475 laboratory-confirmed cases of wild poliovirus type 1, with 30 deaths. At this week’s meeting, all 53 countries in the WHO European Region, including those in which wild poliovirus circulated in 2010, provided evidence to help the RCC make an independent expert assessment of the sustainability of the polio-free status of the Region. The RCC reviewed this evidence to determine whether the European Region would keep its status as polio free. David Salisbury, Chairperson of the RCC, commended the response by Member States, especially their efforts to protect their populations and stop the transmission of the poliovirus. This was done through synchronized additional immunization activities, often involving nationwide vaccination campaigns."

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