New Delhi: Despite the victory over polio, Southeast Asian countries should remain vigilant against the crippling virus, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
Ahead of World Polio Day Oct 24, WHO regional director for South-East Asia Poonam Khetrapal-Singh said: "World Polio Day is a reminder of our monumental victory over polio. A victory that came through extraordinary efforts leading to polio-free certification of WHO's South-East Asia region in March this year.
"But as we recall our victory over this crippling virus, we must remain mindful that the risk of polio persists and we need to continue our efforts until polio is eradicated globally," she said in a statement.
"Countries of the region are maintaining vigilance to rapidly detect any case of importation through sensitive polio virus surveillance systems. And we are prepared to respond vigorously to any case of importation to ensure that the polio virus does not make the region its home again," Khetrapal-Singh added.
She said that as long as there is polio anywhere, unprotected children in all countries are at risk of getting polio. "As the global programme makes effort to stop polio transmission in the remaining endemic and infected countries, the WHO South-East Asia region is working towards implementing the polio end game strategy".
"This involves introducing one dose of injectable polio vaccine into routine immunization schedules, strengthening of routine immunization and withdrawal of the oral polio vaccine in a phased manner beginning with the trivalent oral polio vaccine," she added.