Vaccine congress discusses plan for polio eradication
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Polio, a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by a virus, was one of the key topics of the recently concluded Asian Vaccine Congress (ASVAC) held in Cebu City.  

Significant developments and issues in the eradication of polio in the region were discussed by infectious disease experts and other immunization stakeholders from all over the world.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the presentation of a polio eradication and end-game strategy by Dr. May Montellano, president of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination. She said it is possible to eradicate polio and that it will provide benefits by being able to save billions of dollars in low-income countries. 

She discussed the current situation and challenges that the world is facing in the fight against polio where there are still threats in the emergence of wild polio virus (WPV) and vaccine derived polio virus (VDPV). Polio spreads from person to person, invading the brain and spinal cord, resulting in paralysis.

There are still three countries in the world today, namely Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are still endemic with poliomyelitis. 

Dr. Lulu Bravo explained the components of the eradication and end-game strategy of polio wherein five new elements are added in the plan which distinguished it from previous Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) strategic plans. 

It would also introduce a new strategy in the routine immunization schedules which will feature the use of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) together with the oral polio vaccine (OPV). 

Adoption of this strategy would result in the interruption of WPV and circulating vaccine-derived polio virus (cVDPV), long-term containment plans and eventually total eradication of polio within a specific period of time.

After the presentation of the new strategy, Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag addressed the Philippine situation in the surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and polio eradication. 

He said the country’s high-risk situation for WPV and cVDPV is due to high population, presence of numerous seaports and airports, high areas with low immunization coverage, and low detection rate. 

Tayag said the DOH still has to improve its immunization coverage through the improvement of AFP surveillance indicators. He added that the Philippines will have its own polio end-game strategy and timeline based on the existing situation in the country.

Guest speakers from different countries were also present in the meeting. Dr. Emmanuel Vidor of Sanofi Pasteur presented the use of IPV in the eradication of polio. He pointed out key drivers and considerations in the introduction of new vaccines in the national immunization program and how trivalent OPV (tOPV) efficacy has declined over the years coupled with the threat of cVDPV. 

Dr. Francisco Espinosa from Mexico shared his country’s success experience in the eradication of polio through the use of IPV and how it improved the quality of life among children in the country.

The most important part of the workshop was the drafting of the resolution entitled “Recognizing and Advocating the Efforts toward the World Health Organization Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan.” This resolution will be adopted by the ASVAC toward the total eradication of polio in the region. 

AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN ASIAN VACCINE CONGRESS CEBU CITY DR. EMMANUEL VIDOR OF SANOFI PASTEUR DR. ERIC TAYAG DR. FRANCISCO ESPINOSA DR. LULU BRAVO DR. MAY MONTELLANO ERADICATION POLIO
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