India makes OPV mandatory for travelers from seven polio affected nations

As a preventive measure to stop polio virus from coming into India, all travelers from and to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria and Pakistan would be required to take the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)

polio

All travelers coming from these countries to India would need to take OPV six weeks before departure from their country. Polio vaccine will also be administered to all travelers from India to these polio-affected countries. The new polio vaccination regime comes into effect from 1st March, 2014.

"Years of efforts and huge financial resources have been invested by India for stopping polio in India. We cannot risk importation of poliovirus, which is getting bigger and bigger with the recent outbreaks in the Middle East and earlier in the horn of Africa region. This new preventive measure has been initiated as per the recommendations of the national and international expert bodies and the guidelines of the World Health Organization" said Ms Anuradha Gupta, additional secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

India has not reported any case of polio for over 3 years. Next India, along with the remaining countries ofWHO's South East Asia region will be certified polio-free. However, the risk of polio persists as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria continue to be polio-endemic, re-infecting six countries in 2013 and causing major polio outbreaks in the Horn of Africa region and the Middle East.

In view of the persisting threat of polio virus importation, the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, recommended in its October 2013 report that the International Health Regulations (IHR) should be used to ensure all people travelling from polio-endemic country are required to have vaccination prior to travel, and this should be extended to any persistently affected country.

As per the WHO guidelines, until polio is eradicated globally, the risk of introduction of poliovirus in polio-free areas through travelers remains. All travelers, to and from poliovirus-infected areas, are advised to be adequately vaccinated.

 

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