Dr Poonam Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia
Implementing a monumental change in vaccination that is expected to bring the world closer to eradicating all types of polio, all 11 countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region have "switched" from using the traditionally used trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) to bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) that protects against the remaining wild poliovirus strains.
The vaccine switch removing ‘type 2' component of the oral polio vaccine follows global certification of eradication of type 2 wild poliovirus last year.
The switch also aims at drastically reducing the rare risk of children getting paralysis by oral polio vaccine.
"The world is closer than ever before to ending polio. The switch is a critical step in the Polio Endgame Strategy towards achieving a world free of all types of polioviruses," said Dr Poonam Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.
The polio vaccine switch, which is complemented with introduction of injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), will boost the Region's efforts to protect children against polio until the crippling disease is eradicated globally.