WHO Awards Polio-Free Certificate to Indonesia

Indonesia has been awarded a polio-free certificate by the World Health Organization in recognition of its efforts in overcoming the disease.

“Indonesia received the certificate on March 27, 2014, at the Conference Hall of the World Health Organization, Southeast Asia Office in New Delhi, India,” Director of disease control and environmental health of the Ministry of Health Tjandra Yoga Aditama stated here on Friday.

Indonesia is one of the 11 countries in the WHO Southeast Asian region that have received the polio-free certification.

The other countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Korea, India, Maldives, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor Leste.

Tjandra noted that the certificate should serve as a stepping stone to further increase the coverage of immunization and AFP (acute flaccid paralysis) surveillance.

“Indonesia must continue to increase the coverage of polio immunization, including the process of vaccine shift towards B-OPV (bivalent oral polio vaccine) and IPV (inactivated polio virus vaccine) and assuring the implementation of AFP surveillance across Indonesia,” Tjandra emphasized.

In order to obtain the polio-free certificate, a country must meet several requirements, including tight monitoring, absence of new cases of polio caused by unknown virus originating from the concerned country, good surveillance with polio virus confirmation conducted at a laboratory that meets global standards, good system of detection, reporting and efforts to overcome the imported polio case (poliomyelitis) and the security of polio virus kept at a laboratory that was introduced since 2000.

An independent panel of 11 experts on community health, epidemiology, virology, clinical medicine, and other related fields grouped in the South-East Asia Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication (SEA-RCCPE) has met for the past two days to study the evidence from each country to assure that the 11 WHO member countries of the South-East Region (SEAR) have been free of polio and meet the certification requirements.

Southeast Asia, where a quarter of the world’s population resides, has now received a polio-free certificate from the WHO independent certification commission.

Southeast Asia is the fourth WHO region out of a total of six regions that has received the certification, and it has been an important part of the global polio eradication efforts in view of its huge population.

After Southeast Asia is declared free of polio, 80 percent of the world’s total population will live in polio-free regions.

Meanwhile, Indonesia was also declared smallpox free in 1974 with the last case recorded in 1972, while the world was declared smallpox free in 1980.

In 2012, Indonesia also received recognition from the WHO and the UNICEF for its success in eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus in 88.7 percent of its districts/cities covering 97.4 percent of the country’s total population.

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