International spread of polio remains public health emergency


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Noticias Médicas Univadis
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International experts have warned that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a public Health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and have called for action at country and international levels to support polio eradication. 

The 19th meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee on poliovirus was convened by the Director-General of the WHO last week. While the committee commended individual countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria for efforts to tackle the spread of wild poliovirus (WPV), it said it was “very concerned” by the increase in WPV1 cases globally in 2018.

The apparent international spread of cVDPV2 between Somalia and Kenya and the recent spread from Nigeria into Niger is of concern, given that traditionally cVDPV viruses have rarely spread across borders. Outbreaks of cVDPV2 in Somalia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger continue to be of major concern, as well as outbreaks of cVDPV1 in Papua New Guinea and cVDPV3 in Somalia. 

The committee recommended the extension of temporary recommendations for states affected by WPV1, cVDPV1, cVDPV2s or cVDPV3 with potential risk of international spread including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria (WPV1), Papua New Guinea (cVDPV1), the DRC, Kenya, Nigeria and Niger (cVDPV2s), as well as Somalia (cVDPV2s and cVDPV3).