The International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) recently held its eighth meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) over a teleconference to discuss the poliovirus' spread throughout the world.
The team reviewed data on both wild polio and vaccine-contracted polio, and specifically looked back on the Nov. 10 choice to modify treatment temporarily in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Guinea.
Overall, the EC reported that wild polio has declined in Pakistan and Afghanistan since the original Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in 2014, though it has continued worldwide. It also reported that the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, central Africa and areas in Europe are more susceptible to wild polio. Concerning vaccine-derived polio, outbreaks in Ukraine, Madagascar, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nigeria and Guinea have continued.
The WHO is especially concerned with countries nearby that are suffering from Ebola, and may be more susceptible to illness. Therefore, EC still declares polio a PHEIC and has advised the director-general to extend the temporary recommendations it has previously set in place for three more months. The director-general agreed with the report and, on Feb. 26, extended the recommendations.
EC encourages countries that are able to support the international fight against polio to do so, in the form of information, materials and vaccination. The EC will reevaluate the recommendations in three months.