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Global health leaders express concern at ongoing polio transmission

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WHO's Executive Board declares completion of polio eradication 'programmatic emergency for global public health'

23 January 2012, Geneva, Switzerland - Convening last week at the World Health Organization (WHO), global health leaders expressed concern at ongoing polio transmission in the world and declared its completion a 'programmatic emergency for global public health'.

In a resolution which will now be presented to the World Health Assembly in May for consideration, delegates urged any remaining polio-infected country to declare such transmission to be a 'national public health emergency', requiring the full implementation of current and new eradication strategies, the institution of strong national oversight and accountability mechanisms for all areas infected with poliovirus, and the application of appropriate vaccination recommendations for all travellers to and from areas infected with poliovirus.

The Board congratulated India - arguably one of the most technically-challenging places from where to eradicate polio - which has been polio-free for more than 12 months now.

To ensure the full implementation of all strategic approaches, the Board urged all Member States to urgently make available the financial resources required for the full implementation through end-2013 of the necessary strategic approaches to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission globally.

In response to the declarations by the Executive Board, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is finalizing an Emergency Action Plan for 2012-2013, building on the successful experiences of India's eradication effort and new tools and tactics under development. While the core strategies of the new Emergency Action Plan are already being implemented, it is anticipated that it will be formally presented to all Member States at the World Health Assembly in May.

Executive Board Resolution on polio eradication