PAHO calls for prioritization of vaccination and surveillance against polio


The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) called on Thursday in Guatemala to prioritize vaccination and surveillance programs against polio, a disease eradicated on the continent in 1994.

The agency called "all countries [de la región] keep all diseases preventable by vaccination and, in this particular case, as a priority, said Cuauhtémoc Ruiz-Matus of Mexico, head of the PAHO Family Integral Immunization Unit.

Public health experts from 22 countries of the continent gathered in the Guatemalan capital for three days to follow up on measures to keep the region free of polio and move towards global eradication.

Ruiz-Matus said that attention to polio should continue "as a political priority at all levels" to avoid imported cases.

He urged countries to guarantee funding to ensure the availability of vaccines, trained human resources, laboratories and information systems.

"The immunization program in America has always been a leadership program, so it should remain a political priority," said the PAHO official.

"So far we have been free of polio for 27 years and hope to remain the first free region" of the disease, added Ruiz-Matus, who explained that the countries of the continent are "attuned" to the actions against this disease.

The last case of poliomyelitis in the Americas was recorded in 1991, according to PAHO.

Poliomyelitis is an acute infectious disease caused by poliovirus, which develops primarily in children and affects the nervous system by compromising the cells responsible for muscle control. It can be prevented by vaccination.


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