WHO’s polio team network may play a critical role in Covid-19 vaccine roll-out

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 24, 2020 Published on October 24, 2020

The headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland   -  REUTERS

The World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia stated on World Polio Day today that within weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak, the integrated surveillance and immunisation networks in five polio priority countries of the region were re-purposed to support preparedness and response.

WHO added it is working among the most vulnerable population and areas to help health authorities to detect, test, track, isolate, and even prepare hospitals to provide adequate and timely treatment.

WHO’s polio surveillance networks in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Nepal, are supporting with strategies and initiatives, that earlier helped the region to achieve polio-free certification in March 2014, as per the official release.

The organisation said that its team conducted house-to-house polio surveillance in Uttar Pradesh and identified people with symptoms of influenza-like illness and co-morbidities. The organisation covered 208 million people across all 75 districts in the State.

The surveillance for Covid-19-preventable diseases in Indonesia, where all polio laboratories are now testing for Covid-19-19 vaccine, said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia.

Lauding the efforts of healthcare workers in eradicating polio and curbing the Covid-19 spread, Khetrapal Singh said: “These highly valuable resources continue to provide critical support to planning, operationalising and even conducting key pandemic response initiatives, while also keep a strict vigil for the Region to remain polio-free.”

WHO said in the coming months, their polio networks, with their vast knowledge on vaccination and tools and strategies tailored to reach the unreached and the most vulnerable, could play a critical role in the vaccination rollout.

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Published on October 24, 2020
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