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.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus was detected in a six-year-old boy in April this year. Later, it was found that the same virus stain has been identified in other healthy children in the same locality and community. That declared an official outbreak.
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 a 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.
To stop the outbreak of the highly contagious disease immediately, the government needs to strengthen the surveillance systems to detect it in early stage and a large-scale immunisation campaigns.
The WHO has come up with some experts and $500,000, while the PNG government had set aside $2 million for the response.
• Poliomyelitis (Polio) mainly affects children under five years of age.
Other cases of Polio
As per the WHO, in 2017, there were about 20 cases of polio globally. All these cases occurred in only two countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan.
However, Polio remains an endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
Other emergency situations in Papua New Guinea
On June 16, 2018, Papua New Guinea had declared a nine-month state of emergency, suspended a provincial government and is sent armed forces to restore normalcy after a violent riot which witnessed a rampage of burning and looting.
Another state of emergency declared on March 2, 2018 across its rugged and remote highlands, after a deadly earthquake crushed provincial towns and buried hamlets under landslides.
Who: Papua New Guinea
Where: Papua New Guinea