Polio Eradication Continues in Africa and Mediterranean Countries

Polio vaccinations are recommended prior to visiting Africa and the eastern Mediterranean
African children near a water hole
(Vax Before Travel)

The Regional Subcommittee on Polio Eradication and Outbreaks declared on February 9, 2022, the constant circulation of any strain of poliovirus to be a regional public health emergency.

The spread of polio in the Eastern Mediterranean and African Regions is a pressing health emergency.

Outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses type 1 (cVDPV1) and type 2 (cVDPV2) continued to spread in the Region in 2021. 

Furthermore, the Subcommittee called on all authorities to enable uninterrupted access to the youngest and most vulnerable children through the resumption of house-to-house vaccination campaigns. 

It issued statements on wild poliovirus circulation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and on circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus strains in Yemen.

“Wild poliovirus transmission is at a historic low in the endemic countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The progress is remarkable, but it is fragile. Nevertheless, the opportunity to end polio is knocking at our door, and we must seize it,” said Dr. Al-Mandhari, in a media statement issued on February 10, 2022.

Speaking to the progress made in the last year, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, assured members that the vaccination program in Pakistan was leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of zero polio transmission.

“We have intensified efforts in the hardest districts and core reservoirs, and we are closely monitoring transmission across the border in coordination with Afghanistan, taking measures to respond to outbreaks if they occur and making every effort to ensure that the virus doesn’t spill into either direction.”

“To boost the confidence of marginalized communities, we are also providing essential services and vaccination of other antigens and diseases,” he said.

As of February 2022, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen are responding to the transmission of vaccine-derived polioviruses.

“The increasing outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and neighboring countries of Africa are deeply concerning and must be stopped rapidly.”

The committee expressed appreciation for Egypt’s role as the first country in the Region to launch a nationwide vaccination campaign using the novel poliovirus vaccine.

The WHO issued an Emergency Use Listing recommendation for the nOPV2 vaccine on November 13, 2020. This announcement enabled the rollout of the nOPV2 vaccine in countries affected by circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 outbreaks.

“This regional solidarity and commitment we have seen, through this Subcommittee, is something I am proud of. It is this commitment to the end goal that will help push us over the last mile,” said Dr. Hamid Jafari, director of the regional polio program and co-facilitator of the Regional Subcommittee.

The U.S. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices's latest polio vaccine recommendation is published on this webpage.

And the CDC has issued Level 2 Travel Advisories regarding these polio outbreaks.

As of February 12, 2022, this map shows the latest number of WPV1 and cVDPV polio cases in each affected country.

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