WHO South-East Asia Region celebrates fifth anniversary of
On 27 March 2014, the WHO South-East Asia Region was certified polio-free after all countries stopped transmission of wild poliovirus.
The Region’s last case of wild poliovirus was reported from West Bengal, India, where a two-year old girl suffered polio paralysis on 13 January 2011. An intense response by Government of India, WHO and partners ensured it remained the last case of wild poliovirus in the Region.
Five years after certification, the Region continues to be polio-free, thanks to the continued efforts being made by Member countries, WHO, partners, and the community themselves.
Every year 32 million children across WHO South-East Asia Region are being reached with oral polio vaccines under routine immunization programme and polio vaccination campaigns. 460 million doses of oral polio vaccines were given to children in India in four mass vaccination campaigns in 2018.
Surveillance for polio has been further strengthened. 75 000 stool samples were tested in 16 poliovirus laboratories in the Region in 2018.
Environmental surveillance has expanded three-fold – samples are now collected from 74 sites in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand. In 2014, environment surveillance was conducted only in India, from 23 sites.
While continuing to maintain a strict vigil against polio, the entire polio machinery is now geared towards strengthening routine immunization, which now includes injectable inactivated polio vaccines (IPV)– further boosting defense against polio.
Polio programme and its lessons are guiding efforts to achieve measles elimination and rubella control, a flagship priority programme in WHO South-East Asia Region.
"27 March is a reminder of the momentous victory for the millions of health workers who worked with governments, nongovernmental organizations, civil society and international partners to eradicate polio from the Region. It is a sign of what we can bequeath our children when we work together,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.