WHO to declare Bhutan as polio free

Bhutan to be polio free
Bhutan to be polio free

Bhutan is likely to be declared polio free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a meeting to be held late March in New Delhi.

The 7th meeting of South-East Asia Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication on March 27 is presumely to certify Bhutan as a polio -free country for maintaining polio -free status for the last several years.

The declaration is believed to come after India too, on January 13, marked its success in preventing new cases of polio in children.

All the nine member countries of South-East Asia Region of World Health Organization— Bangladesh, Nepal, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste will be certified.

Other countries have been able to halt the disease for more than five years while India and Nepal have been able to prevent it for the past three years.

“As no single country can be certified as polio -free, a WHO Region is certified as a whole after all its countries avert new transmissions for at least three years,” WHO has stated in its website.

By 2013, only three countries in the world, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria remained endemic, according to WHO.

Key facts from WHO

  • Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under five years of age.
  • One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
  • Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an
  • estimated 350 000 cases then, to 223 reported cases in 2012. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.
  • In 2013, only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.
  • As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.
  • In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.

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