PAHO urges Caribbean to keep polio at bay

PAHO urges Caribbean to keep polio at bay

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — Caribbean countries are being urged to take immediate action to increase polio vaccination coverage to 95 per cent as the world observed World Polio Day yesterday.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) made the call amid reports that coverage in many countries of the Americas is below recommended levels.

“The Americas have remained free from cases of wild poliovirus for 27 years, with the last case detected on August 23, 1991, in Peru. The countries of the region were able to eliminate polio by achieving high rates of vaccination coverage of children and through sustained epidemiological surveillance to ensure early detection of any outbreaks,” PAHO said.

But Dr Jarbas Barbosa, the PAHO assistant director, said while the region is polio-free, “as long as even one case of polio exists in any part of the world, we are still at risk.

“By achieving and maintaining high vaccination coverage and by strengthening epidemiological surveillance, we can make the dream of a polio-free future for the world a reality,” he said.

PAHO said recent reports, however, show that countries are not maintaining the 95 per cent vaccination coverage rate required at all levels to prevent polio transmission.

“This means that some communities are at risk of being unable to prevent an outbreak should an imported case occurs or if there is an emergence of vaccine-derived poliovirus,” it said.

PAHO said poliomyelitis is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system, resulting in paralysis in a matter of hours.

It mostly affects children under the age of five and is transmitted person-to-person. While there is no cure, PAHO said the virus is preventable by vaccine. It said polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.

In 1975, PAHO said nearly 6,000 cases of polio were reported in the region of the Americas; and, in 1991, the last six cases were detected.

Three years later, in 1994, the disease was formally declared eliminated from the region.

since then, PAHO said, no child has been paralysed by wild poliovirus in the Americas.

As the first region of the world to eliminate polio, PAHO said it and the Americas have led the way toward a world free from the disease.

PAHO said it is currently working with countries to ensure that every year more than 95 per cent of children under the age of one are vaccinated against polio in every municipality in the countries of the Americas.

“There is no place for complacency when it comes to keeping the Americas polio-free,” said Cuauhtémoc Ruiz Matus, head of the Comprehensive Family Immunization Unit at PAHO.

“Vaccination coverage rates must be increased immediately in order to protect the children of our region from this deadly disease. As long as polio exists anywhere, it is a threat to children everywhere.”

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon