Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Countries Should Bar Entry to People without Proof of Polio Vaccination: Report

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Countries Should Bar Entry to People without Proof of Polio Vaccination: Report

Article excerpt

No polio vaccine? No entry, report suggests

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A new report suggests countries should bar entry to travellers from nations still plagued by polio unless they have proof they have been vaccinated.

The report says the move would safeguard other parts of the world against the possibility of polio spreading from the remaining three endemic countries.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries in the world that have never managed to stop the spread of polio viruses within their borders.

The recommendation comes from a group of experts which critiques the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Program.

The Independent Monitoring Board was set up at the behest of World Health Organization Director General Dr. Margaret Chan to identify weaknesses in the polio program and offer expert advice.

In its latest report, the monitoring board says the polio program may be on the cusp of finally conquering the disease, but critical work remains to be done.

"History may look back on 2012 as the beginning of the end for the polio virus," the advisers said in their typically bluntly worded report.

The report acknowledges that some may view as extreme the recommendation that countries should require proof of polio vaccination when citizens of the three endemic countries seek entry at their borders.

But it says the risk that polio viruses from the endemic countries will reignite spread in other nations remains too high. And some countries, particularly in parts of Africa, are highly vulnerable to renewed transmission, because many of their children are not fully vaccinated.

"Besides their human and financial costs, outbreaks are an unhelpful and demoralizing distraction to the pursuit of global eradication," the report says.

"They need to be prevented."

The experts suggest the WHO's International Health Regulations expert review committee issue a standing recommendation on the matter by next May. …

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