Joint statement by World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and ROTARY on World Polio Day 2023

Joint statement by World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and ROTARY on World Polio Day 2023

Joint statement by World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and ROTARY on World Polio Day 2023

Joint statement by World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and ROTARY on World Polio Day 2023

Today, we commemorate the 2023 World Polio Day (WPD) by joining the global community to create awareness about polio eradication and urge parents to vaccinate their children. We,– the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and ROTARY – reaffirm our commitment to continue delivering on our promise until polio is eliminated in Ethiopia.

Polio is a highly contagious and dangerous disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system and 1 in 200 infected people face the risk of permanent paralysis. Therefore, the eradication of polio is considered important on a global scale and the World Polio Day is observed every year to raise awareness for the polio vaccination.

The World Polio Day will be celebrated globally on 24th October and the theme for this year is “TOGETHER, WE END POLIO” to show that the global fight to end polio needs working together and acknowledge everyone’s contribution at all levels.

The Global polio eradication core partners, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, USAID, Rotary International, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the vaccine alliance have been supporting the polio eradication effort actively with a goal to eradicate polio worldwide and managed to bring the polio cases down by 100 per cent worldwide. 

Africa has also made tremendous progress towards the eradication of the wild poliovirus (WPV), and in 2020, the WHO Africa Region was certified as wild polio-free, thanks to countries’ sustained commitment and coordination of partners. However, the job is not yet done, and a non-wild polio variant continues to circulate in under-immunized communities and wild polio still threatens a few countries in Africa and beyond.

In June 2017, Ethiopia was certified wild polio-free status following the standard certification process conducted by the Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication (ARCC). The remarkable progress in Ethiopia would not have been possible without the leadership of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, the commitment of frontline workers, and the generous support of global partners.

Though the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and its partners are working tirelessly to maintain the momentum, Ethiopia has remained at high risk for the importation and circulation of VDPV and WPV due to high cross-border population movement and low population immunity against the importation of WPV.  

Since polio has no cure, there is no other way to stop its spread than to immunize your baby at the earliest possible. So, we urge all parents and caregivers to ensure that they protect their baby’s life by providing them with the vaccination on time.

We also urge all partners, stakeholders, and health workers to do their part in preventing the transmission of this deadly virus as well by vaccinating every child and strengthening disease surveillance.

We noticeably recognize the commitment of the Ministry of Health Ethiopia to explore several means to stop all forms of polio in the country. In 2021, Ethiopia introduced a new polio vaccine, a novel type two oral poliovirus vaccine (nOPV2), which is now in use throughout the country and there is also a plan to introduce the second dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV2) into the routine immunization to strengthen the immune system.

As we commemorate World Polio Day, we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to continue working with the Government of Ethiopia, to ensure that every child, everywhere, is vaccinated to stop the circulation of vaccine-derived poliovirus in Ethiopia. 

As we jointly commemorate World Polio Day, we call upon the Government of Ethiopia and our immunization partners to join us in celebrating the progress we have collectively made so far and to maintain wild poliovirus-free status.

Our message is clear: Any form of polio, anywhere in the world, is a threat to children everywhere! Hence, let us reach the vulnerable and marginalized populations with safe and lifesaving vaccines. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Ethiopia.