World Health Organization South-East Asia Region successfully completed five years without any case of wild poliovirus on 13 January 2015, says a statement issued by Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia.
WHO's South-East Asia Region comprises as many as 11 member states: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
According to Dr. Singh, this is a remarkable gain in view of the continued threat of poliovirus importation from the remaining polio-endemic countries.
The Region's last reported case of wild poliovirus was in West Bengal, India, in 2011. The Region was declared polio-free on 27 March 2014.
Completing half a decade without any case of wild poliovirus is yet another achievement and a reminder that we should continue our efforts until the disease is eradicated globally. We need to ensure that our efforts over the years to eradicate polio do not go waste. Globally, polio transmission is at its lowest ever levels. However, the risk of importation of the poliovirus into all polio-free areas persists.
As part of the Polio End Game strategy, countries in the South-East Asia Region are accelerating introduction of one dose of injectable inactivated polio vaccine in childhood immunization schedules. This is along with plans for a globally synchronized, phased and sequential withdrawal of oral polio vaccines from the program. These strategies aims to address all polio - including the rare cases of vaccine derived polio.