World Health Assembly adopts landmark resolution to finish polio once and for all

Ministers of health from around the world attending this week’s World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland, adopted a landmark resolution to secure a lasting world free of all polio-disease once and for all

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© WHO/ V. Martin

Ministers noted the strong progress being achieved and the impact of national emergency action plans, as more and more children in the remaining endemic countries are now fully protected from lifelong polio-paralysis. Yet they warned that as long as the disease remained anywhere, children everywhere are at risk. The meeting noted that achieving eradication, a global public good, could only be achieved through global solidarity. Reviewing latest global epidemiology and impact of emergency outbreak plans, the WHA noted in particular the strong progress across Africa, which has not seen a case due to wild poliovirus since last August, and in stopping a devastating outbreak affecting the Middle East despite conflict and large-scale population movements affecting the region. Delegates commended the unwavering commitment of governments, health workers, humanitarian organizations, NGOs and civil society across the region, underscoring what successes could be achieved in the spirit of global solidarity.

Delegates also noted the tremendous efforts being undertaken this year in Pakistan, which last year accounted for 85% of all new polio cases worldwide. In particular, new emergency efforts resulted this year in reaching children in previously inaccessible areas.

Delegates also noted the strong progress being made, in close coordination with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, towards preparing for the phased withdrawal of oral polio vaccines (OPV), and urged all countries to ensure global readiness for the coordinated global switch from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV in early 2016, including by ensuring sufficient global supply of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to facilitate the switch, and equitable access to the global stockpile of monovalent OPV type 2 (mOPV2). This activity is critical to ensuring that the small risk of vaccine-associated polio paralysis can be eliminated for the long-term.
Rotary International provided an impassioned plea for all stakeholders to redouble their efforts, while reiterating the unwavering commitment of Rotarians worldwide.

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