Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia
The United Nations health agency announced that the South-East Asia Region has completed five years without any case of wild polio virus, a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system and for which there is still no cure.
"This is a remarkable achievement in view of the continued threat of poliovirus importation from the remaining polio-endemic countries," said World Health Organization (WHO) regional director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, in a statement.
"Countries in the region have been making commendable efforts, stepping up vigilance against polio and continuing to protect children against the crippling virus," She added, noting that the last case of wild poliovirus reported by WHO in the South-East Asia Region was in West Bengal, India, in 2011.
The UN agency is underlining that completing half a decade without any case of wild polio virus is "yet another achievement" and a reminder that efforts need to continue until the disease is eradicated globally.
"We need to ensure that our efforts and investment over the years to eradicate polio do not go to waste," warned Dr Singh. "Globally, polio transmission is at its lowest ever levels. However, the risk of importation of the poliovirus into all polio-free areas persists."