Mon | Jan 20, 2020

Caribbean strengthening measures to keep region polio free

Published:Wednesday | December 5, 2018 | 9:40 AM
CMC photo

GUATEMALA CITY, CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says Caribbean countries are seeking to consolidate measures to maintain elimination and avoid reintroduction of poliomyelitis, or polio, as it is commonly called.

PAHO said that the region of the Americas registered its last case of polio in 1991, and, in 1994, was the first in the world to receive certification from the World Health Organization  (WHO) as free of the disease.

“As long as there is even one infected child, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio,” said Cuauhtémoc Ruiz-Matus, PAHO’s chief of the Comprehensive Family Immunization Unit, during the inauguration here of the sixth  Regional Meeting on Polio: “On the way to global certification”, which takes place Thursday.

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

It said while it has no cure, it can be prevented through vaccination.

Children under the age of five are the most affected.

PAHO said cases of poliomyelitis have decreased by more than 99 per cent globally, from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 in more than 125 endemic countries, to 27 reported so far in 2018.

However, PAHO said it is estimated that, if the goal of global eradication is not reached, there would be a resurgence around the world within 10 years that could generate 200,000 new cases per year.

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