11th Jan 2020 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure Shot
The World Health Organization’s announcement on risks regarding polio.
- The World Health Organization has announced that polio will continue to remain a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for the next three months.
- Polio was declared as PHEIC in 2014 and has continued to remain one since then.
- The decision was taken based on the recommendation of the emergency committee. The committee arrived at the unanimous decision based on the “rising risk” of international spread of wild poliovirus type-1.
- Polio remains a concern despite concerted efforts across the world. There has been an increase in the number of cases of wild polio type-1 cases in 2019, compared to 2018.
- Apart from the increase in the number of cases, there were instances of the wild type-1 virus getting exported from Pakistan to Iran and Afghanistan. The increase in the area currently under threat possess challenges to the countries given the lack of resources in these countries.
- Other parts of the region that have been free of the virus in the past are at risk of outbreaks.
- The virus causing polio has been found in the environment in Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan. This is a concern considering the fact that the number of children not vaccinated in Afghanistan has been increasing. These children would be vulnerable to the Poliovirus present in the environment.
- A major cause of concern has been the outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus cases in 16 countries.
- A country is said to have eradicated polio when no new case of wild poliovirus is reported for three successive years. Nigeria is all set to be declared as having eradicated polio in 2020, and in turn, the entire African region will become free of wild poliovirus.