Team commends Ethiopia’s fast, aggressive response to polio outbreak


After over ten years without a single indigenous case of wild polio virus (WPV), in 2013 importation of the virus was witnessed in Ethiopia.
The country is now one of the three countries with imported polio cases since the current outbreak affecting the Horn of Africa began in Somalia in May 2013, according to WHO press release.
Recognizing the significance of efficient outbreak control for achieving global polio eradication, the 59th World Health Assembly (WHA) urged all polio-free Member States to respond rapidly and effectively to control polio outbreaks.
WHA further recommends that three months after the notification of the first case, assessments of the quality and adequacy of outbreak response activities should be conducted by an external review team against the WHA-established standards. This should be repeated every three months as long as the outbreak continues.
A multi-agency assessment team comprising of technical officers from WHO, UNICEF, USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, American Red Cross, CORE Group and the Federal Ministry of Health has conducted the first polio outbreak response assessment in Ethiopia covering seven states.
The assessment team commended the country’s fast and aggressive response to the outbreak that met most of milestones recommended by WHA.
The team concluded that with the existing high-level commitment at the national and regional levels, particularly in the infected Somali State, the current outbreak can be stopped within six months, if appropriate actions to address remaining operational barriers to higher population immunity are implemented.
Health State Minister Dr. Kebede Worku, the WHO Representative, and the UNICEF Deputy Representative thanked the assessment team, but urged them to appreciate the context in which the country implemented the emergency polio outbreak response activities, simultaneously introducing the rotavirus vaccine and the MenAfrivac campaign.
WHO and UNICEF pledged on behalf of the EPI (Expanded Programme on Immunization) partners to support the country in translating the recommendations of the assessment into an action plan, so that Ethiopia can end the wild polio virus outbreak within the next six months.
A multi-agency team conducted a polio outbreak response assessment in Ethiopia, January 21-29, 2014. The assessment team presented its findings and recommendations at the Federal Ministry of Health January 29, 2014.
(Ethiopian Herald)