VN faces wild polio threat

Update: May, 10/2014 - 08:54

HCM CITY (VNS)  — The Ministry of Health has told local medical centres, institutes of hygiene and epidemiology and Pasteur Institutes throughout the country to take preventive measures against the wild polio virus which has spread globally.

The ministry's preventive medicine department said no cases had been recorded in Viet Nam, but urged local government agencies to take part in prevention methods.

Dr Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), on May 5 declared the international spread of the wild polio virus a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern".

The WHO's emergency committee said the global spread of the virus this year constituted an "extraordinary event" and a public health risk for which a coordinated international response was essential.

If unchecked, the situation could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world's most serious vaccine-preventable diseases, it said.

As of the end of last year, 60 per cent of polio cases were the result of the global spread of the wild polio virus, and there was increasing evidence that adult travelers contributed to the spread.

This year, the virus has spread from countries in central Asia, the Middle East and central Africa.

In Viet Nam, polio was eradicated in 2000 under the national expanded programme on immunisation.

Polio vaccination in Viet Nam continues to be provided free to infants.

Three shots in the first, second and third month after delivery are necessary for the vaccine to be effective.

Adults who do not have immunity against the virus can also become infected.

However, children under 15 years old, especially those aged one to three, are more vulnerable to infection. — VNS