A public health emergency has been declared in three Papua New Guinea (PNG) provinces as the country responds to its first polio outbreak in 18 years when it was declared free of the disease. As per the Health Ministry report, at least three provinces Morobe, Madang and the Eastern Highlands confirmed the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus.
According to the WHO, Polio has no cure and can lead to irreversible paralysis. Polio mainly affects children who are under five. It can only be prevented by giving multiple vaccine doses to children. The public health emergency order will remain in place for at least 12 months, as per the Minister for Health Puka Temu. Papua New Guinea was certified as polio-free in 2000 along with the rest of the WHO Western Pacific Region as it has not had a case of wild poliovirus since 1996.
Polio Key facts:-
1. Poliomyelitis (Polio) mainly affects children under five years of age.
2. Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
3. Every one in 200 infections leads to permanent paralysis.
4. Cases die to wild poliovirus have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 22 reported cases in 2017. As a result of the global effort to eradicate the disease, more than 16 million people have been saved from paralysis.
5. In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.