Following the spread of wild Poliovirus in Asia, Africa and Middle East, The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared what it calls "a public health emergency of international concern" and as it fights to protect its ground breaking progress towards eradicating the virus across the globe, The British Polio Fellowship CEO, Ted Hill MBE, has offered his support as WHO ensure that all possible measures are taken across the globe to stop any further outbreaks from occurring.
Since the start of this year there have been 68 new cases of Polio, a rise from only 24 at this point last year. The virus has also been exported to three new countries from severely affected areas on three separate occasions; including Pakistan to Afghanistan, Syria to Iraq and from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea and if measures are not taken straight away to stop further spread, then all of WHO's previous work in administering the Polio virus to countries in a hope of eradicating the disease world wide by 2018 could be undone.
"The British Polio Fellowship is well aware of the hard work WHO has undertaken in eradicating this disease across most of the globe," said The British Polio Fellowship CEO, Ted Hill MBE. "Yet if countries in these affected regions cannot prevent the spread of the disease across their borders, then all the progress could go to waste as the disease takes a hold once more. Eradication of Polio globally by 2018 would be a truly remarkable achievement, but these current cases highlight the enormity of the task."
The director general of the health organisation has set clear guidelines to countries that could be under threat from the virus. The first of these recommendations includes nations in the affected regions declaring a national public health emergency, they also have to ensure that additional doses of the vaccine are issued to residents of these nations and long term visitors, as well as guaranteeing that all visitors carry the relevant WHO "yellow booklet" which acts as proof of vaccination. These measures are to be undertaken alongside current eradication efforts, as WHO continues to administer vaccinations to areas severely affected by the virus.
It is not clear yet whether these cases will have any bearing on the western world, it is important that all nations ensure everyone arriving has been vaccinated and carries the right paper work.
"It's a worrying time, the last case of Polio in the UK was 1982 and over 120,000 people still suffer with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). I would like to encourage vigilance from all relevant authorities to ensure the virus does not spread further."
As we enter what is generally considered high transmission season for the spread of the disease without countries taking these measures the spread of the virus, more cases can be expected if WHO's advice is not taken on board.