The World Health Organization (WHO) says poliomyelitis (polio) is on track to become the second human disease ever to be eradicated. Marking World Polio Day earlier this week (October 24), it said just 20 cases of wild poliovirus have been detected so far in 2018 in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, the three remaining endemic countries.
While there has been a 99.9 per cent decrease in polio cases worldwide, the organisation said tackling the remaining 0.01 per cent of polio cases has proven to be difficult, and warned that vaccination efforts must continue.
A recent report from the European Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (RCC) expressed concern that vaccination coverage is in decline in some countries. It identified Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and Ukraine as being at high risk for possible spread of poliovirus if the virus were to be imported or emerge, and 21 countries were considered to be at intermediate risk.
“Until the last chains of circulation in endemic areas have been interrupted, importation of the virus into countries that have already eradicated it remains a threat,” the WHO said in a statement.