The World Health Organization’s (WHO) European Region has retained its poliomyelitis (polio)-free status, following assessment by the European Regional Certification Commission (RCC) for Poliomyelitis Eradication, despite concerns over vulnerabilities in some areas.
In reaching the decision, the independent panel of experts considered annual progress reports (APRs) for 2017 submitted by all 53 Member States of the Region. These APRs provided the basis on which each country assessed the risk of spread in the event of emergence or importation of polio virus.
Concerns were voiced over vulnerabilities in three countries, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, and Ukraine, with the RCC highlighting concerns over suboptimal immunisation coverage, weakness in surveillance, supply shortages and other vulnerabilities. The three countries have been urged to engage in efforts to improve their polio programmes, because of weaknesses which put them and the entire region at risk.
Professor David Salisbury, Chair of both the Global Certification Commission (GCC) and the RCC stressed the importance of continued efforts to prevent and detect any occurrence of the disease. “We must remain vigilant as the risk of polio has not disappeared. Our challenge is to hunt for viruses, not just cases,” he said.