WHO recommends travel restrictions on Pakistan to prevent spread of polio

Published: May 5, 2014
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday recommended that travel restrictions be placed on Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria for being the only three countries that are currently exporting wild poliovirus, Express News reported.

At the end of 2013, the WHO said in a statement, 60% of polio cases were the result of the international spread of wild poliovirus and that there was increasing evidence that adult travellers had contributed to this spread.

Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria were named as countries that are infected with wild poliovirus but not currently exporting it to other countries. WHO also said that these states pose an ongoing risk for new wild poliovirus exportations in 2014.

During the low transmission season of the poliovirus, which is from January to April, there had already been international spread of wild poliovirus from three of the 10 infected countries, one of which is Pakistan.

WHO recommendations

According to the WHO statement, Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria should officially declare the interruption of poliovirus transmission a national public health emergency if they have not already done so.

The countries should also ensure that all residents and long-term visitors (anyone staying in the country for more than 4 weeks) receive a dose of OPV or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) between 4 weeks and 12 months prior to all international travel.

The WHO also recommended that the country ensure that individuals undertaking urgent travel (i.e. within 4 weeks), who have not received a dose of OPV or IPV in the previous 4 weeks to 12 months, receive a dose of polio vaccine at least by the time of departure as this will still provide benefit, particularly for frequent travellers.

The three countries also have to ensure that such travellers are provided with an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in the form specified in Annex 6 of the International Health Regulations (2005) to record their polio vaccination and serve as proof of vaccination.

The WHO also recommended that the states maintain these measures until the following criteria have been met: (i) at least 6 months have passed without new exportations and (ii) there is documentation of full application of high quality eradication activities in all infected and high risk areas; in the absence of such documentation these measures should be maintained until at least 12 months have passed without new exportations.

According to the WHO statement, once the country has met the criteria to be assessed as no longer exporting wild poliovirus, it will continue to be considered infected until the time it has met the criteria to be removed from that category.

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Reader Comments (56)

  • Asim Ali
    May 5, 2014 - 4:53PM

    Another restriction. What a laughing stock this country has become. A nation which faces a multitude of crises from militancy to energy shortages to tax collection, and now we have a polio ban. Meanwhile the government seems to think metro bus and laptops is what this country requires.

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  • World traveler
    May 5, 2014 - 4:58PM

    What a shame, even the most failed state in the world (Afghanistan) has beaten Pakistan on this aspect.

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  • Sophist
    May 5, 2014 - 4:59PM

    Congratulation to whole nation, we have achieved our first major milestone.
    Bravo to Islamic Republic of Pakistan

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  • Prateek
    May 5, 2014 - 5:13PM

    World is actually afraid of polio infected pakistanis taking off :D .. LOL .. You are grounded !!

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  • Umair Khan
    May 5, 2014 - 5:14PM

    I think this is a good step. Pakistanis should do good to rest of humanity by not allowing the virus to spread abroad. Oh we are Islam ka Fort, so dont we want good for others? I personally think its good thing, we already show so many documents, visa, tickets, no criminal record certificate, so if there is one more document what is harm in it? :D Geo to Aisey

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  • Obaid
    May 5, 2014 - 5:18PM

    A proud moment for us indeed.

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  • Wali
    May 5, 2014 - 5:23PM

    There we have it… In the last 2 days we saw on the news the true value of Pakistani passport and now this scathing report from WHO.
    Pakistan can go on chest thumping, delusion of self-importance with eyes closed to what our problems are and will keep sinking in the self created hole! When the rest of the world has long moved on from this disease we have achieved the distinction of travel restrictions in 2014…. another star on our shoulders!

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  • Syed
    May 5, 2014 - 5:31PM

    Congrats to All my beloved countrymen, for this tremendous efforts.

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  • Earth on Fire
    May 5, 2014 - 5:31PM

    Ist ever step to isolate Pakistan…What about the HIV which is coming from other countries…….

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  • Mohammad
    May 5, 2014 - 5:32PM

    A Sad Day in the history of Pakistan – WHO forget that it was Dr. Shakil Afridi the Osama Bin Laden chaser who damaged vaccination drive in Pakistan.

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  • omer
    May 5, 2014 - 5:33PM

    while we were busy fighting patriot wars along with negotiating with killers of health workers, world had enough of our negligence w.r.t polio. thanks ppp for amazing governance in last 5 years

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  • May 5, 2014 - 5:35PM

    What a disaster for us as a country. Hopefully this will jog us out of our apathy.

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  • Anonymous
    May 5, 2014 - 5:45PM

    My God. I am outside of Pakistan and next Saturday I am traveling to US.
    Don’t know this restriction apply to Pakistani national or only the resident. Since there is no way for me to get vaccinated in 3rd country :(
    Appreciate if anyone has any information on this one!!!

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  • India
    May 5, 2014 - 5:58PM

    Another achievement for Islamic republic

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  • Bolobhi
    May 5, 2014 - 6:10PM

    Now government might take this matter serious…

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  • Bunty
    May 5, 2014 - 6:12PM

    Ladies and Gentelmen,

    Please stand up to applaud the PPP and PML N govts for their efforts to bring us to this level.

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  • Jat
    May 5, 2014 - 6:25PM

    Pakistanis want Indian visas ?

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  • Avtar
    May 5, 2014 - 6:29PM

    It is sad but not an unexpected recommendation for Pakistan. Health authorities were aware of this; now the average Pakistani has to potentially produce another document. The US drone strikes have almost disappeared, I wonder what excuse the tribal leaders and other politicians will come up now against polio vaccination.

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  • Riaz Ahmed
    May 5, 2014 - 6:49PM

    So who will issue the health certificates??? An international medical team present in all Pakistan airports or any registered Pakistani doctors???

    If its the latter,then it will be a golden goose for Pakistani doctors as they will start collecting bribe to issue the certificate without even seeing the patient…

    Looks like WHO doesnt understand how doctors are in Pakistan

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  • Uzair
    May 5, 2014 - 6:52PM

    One more laurel for Pakistan, all due to our misguided notion that the mullahs have the answer and that religion is the panacea for our country’s ailments.

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  • Truth Detector
    May 5, 2014 - 7:23PM

    It is a sad news but joyful & pathetic comments from Indians are even sadder.

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  • Ali
    May 5, 2014 - 7:24PM

    @Mohammad.

    WHO has given a factual report and what it and the rest of the world thinks of Pakistan.
    Of course we can go about blaming i on Shakil Afridi – it is called denial and not taking responsibility for your own problems!

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  • obsever
    May 5, 2014 - 7:24PM

    another feather to the cap of democracy….it is the failure of political leaders let by PTI,PML-N and PPP

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  • truth
    May 5, 2014 - 7:27PM

    this restriction should be applied on Nawaz shareef also….he is traveling to much on tax payer money

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  • Mohan
    May 5, 2014 - 7:28PM

    Spread of polio virus from pakistan should be prevented.All pakistani’s unless required are not allowed to travel abroad even in india.

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  • Musharraf
    May 5, 2014 - 7:28PM

    “adult travellers had contributed to this spread.”… What about the adult travelers traveling to and from India? Shouldn’t they be screened for HIV ? That’s a more deadly virus or isn’t it ?

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  • Gp65
    May 5, 2014 - 7:31PM

    @Mohammad:
    Wrong Shakil Afridi issue came to light in June 2011. By that time most countries in the world were polio free. Even India with higher poverty rate had last case of polio in Jan 2011. So why was it then not eradicated in Pakistan? The Shakil Afridi excuse fools no one outside Pakistan.

    In any case Shakil Afrid had conducted unauthorized camp for jaundice. So what is the relevance to the polio eradication effort? It is not as though vaccination of all other diseases has ceased in Pakistan – then why sinle out polio alone? The truth is for the longest time there was a conspiracy theory that polio vaccine reduces fertilty and hence it was rejected by Muslims in India and Nigeria as well as people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. India overcame the issue by taking the help of maulvis to correct the message. I hope Pakistan is also able to do this. Pakistan’s children deserve to be poliofree just like kids elsewhere.

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  • Hafiz
    May 5, 2014 - 7:41PM

    And Kashmir is our jugular vein, let us intensify jihad on India. All our problems will disappear…LOL

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  • Saleem
    May 5, 2014 - 7:41PM

    We are a nations of protests. Let’s start a protest against that as well.

    All these years, Pakistan been taking small steps in the wrong direction. A small minority is controlling destination of Pakistan now. Political parties, who were against creation of Pakistan, are in fact controlling our destination. It is a wake call for all those who live in Pakistan to decide their own destination rather rather getting pulled by those who live in foreign land, and those who want to hijack Pakistan in the name of Islam – a twisted version which even their own papernts didn’t subscribe to.

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  • Patriot
    May 5, 2014 - 7:50PM

    Congrats TTP and the Nawaz government in supporting the talibans and the so called dialogue process.

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  • Aamir
    May 5, 2014 - 7:52PM

    Poor Syria, it got the polio from out militants going there to fight.

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  • imran
    May 5, 2014 - 7:55PM

    All europeans and Indians should present an S.T.D free certificate on arrival to Pakistan.

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  • Jat
    May 5, 2014 - 7:58PM

    @Bunty: Please stand up to applaud the PPP and PML N govts for their efforts to bring us to this level

    And you want to give medals to the military dictators ?

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  • Syed
    May 5, 2014 - 8:02PM

    @Mohammad:
    Idk if you understand how HIV spread and how polio spread.

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  • Tani
    May 5, 2014 - 8:17PM

    @earth on fire HIV is not contagious like polio. Unless one does the deed with infected person,use infected syringe or blood transfusion one is good unlike polio which is contagious. Btw Pakistan is banned for polio not HIV if you don’t know you have those patients too. But WHO has spent great effort and money to wipe out polio from face of earth and has been successful. But the emergence of spreading in syria etc have put them on red alert to restrict countries spreading it.

    @riaz ahmed WHO has affiliated medical units which will certify it. You can’t bribe them. They don’t function like locals country lax rules. They have international standards while dealing with it.It’s very strict.

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  • SH
    May 5, 2014 - 8:17PM

    @Anonymous:
    Check with the local US embassy in the country where you’re in right now. I don’t think there should be a problem right now, as WHO has just recommended a ban. It may take a few days for countries to enforce it – if they deem it necessary.

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  • Farhan
    May 5, 2014 - 8:35PM

    Its time to get tough with the morons who refuse vaccinations. Their ignorance is is costing dearly now.Recommend

  • AK
    May 5, 2014 - 8:43PM

    I think this is good, and government would take this matter very seriously now, I hope so .

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  • Panwar
    May 5, 2014 - 8:49PM

    Polio vaccination is a million dollar business. Asking millions of Pakistanis to get vaccinated, regardless of age, means more money in the coffers of big pharma.

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  • Panwar
    May 5, 2014 - 8:51PM

    Gaza? seriously… thats when you know its a baloney. How could anyone travel to a place like Gaza which is effectively a concentration camp whose access is controlled by Isreal.

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  • someone
    May 5, 2014 - 8:57PM

    @Anonymous:
    These are just recommendations from WHO. No country has put any sort of ban yet, except India and Georgia. Its not even a ban. One just need polio vaccination certificate that is all.

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  • May 5, 2014 - 9:42PM

    As per the tweet israel sewage also holds polio virus. So, why no restrictions on that country?

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  • Ashvinn
    May 5, 2014 - 10:07PM

    Nuke the Polio or better Send some strategic Assets to fight polio

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  • Anurag
    May 5, 2014 - 10:08PM

    That would be ‘A small step for WHO but a giant leap for mankind’ . Lol

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  • May 5, 2014 - 10:57PM

    Polio is one of the most devastating diseases that is on the verge of being eradicated worldwide. Pakistan is one of the only three countries where polio remains endemic. Recent national eradication efforts have suffered critical setbacks, threatening global gains against the crippling disease. Militant attacks in this year alone have killed more than 30 polio vaccination workers and police officers escorting them. Pakistani Taliban leaders have banned immunization campaigns in two North and South Waziristan districts that border Afghanistan. The violence and the Taliban ban are blamed for this year’s increase in polio victims in these areas. Officials say the country has recorded many new polio cases, most of them in the Waziristan area. Pakistan reported 93 new polio cases in 2013.

    Elias Durry heads the World Health Organization’s polio eradication program in Pakistan. He said, “The program is missing close to 260,000 children both in North and South Waziristan and some neighboring areas,” said Durry. “And this lack of vaccination in these areas have been going on since June of 2012 and that is manifested currently, by you know, almost exclusively most of the cases that the country has now, most of the children who are paralyzed, are coming from those areas.” The militant-dominated Waziristan and adjoining tribal areas are considered some of the last wild polio virus reservoirs in the world. Taliban extremists have blocked polio vaccination teams, accusing them of acting as American spies. It is time for Pakistan to make a choice to somehow get the children in Northern Pakistan vaccinated or it will become difficult for them to travel anywhere worldwide for the fear of the infectious virus spreading through the travelers. We hope that all parties involved can continue to work together to overcome this difficult situation that can affect the whole wide world.

    Abdul Quddus
    DET – United States Central Command

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  • Umar
    May 5, 2014 - 11:29PM

    Kashmir issue trumps all. It is the real international emergencies.

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  • shah
    May 5, 2014 - 11:57PM

    Another feather in the cap of pakistanis

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  • shahid
    May 6, 2014 - 12:11AM

    @Umair Khan:
    Umair, it looks like instead of Islam we have become “Polio ka Qila”.

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  • Pankaj
    May 6, 2014 - 12:22AM

    @Mohammad: You mean to say World top terrorist caught red handed living in Pakistan was not a problem but, catching him has created Polio……What a great thinking… New name for Pakistan is Poliostan now……..

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  • Arslan
    May 6, 2014 - 2:15AM

    Any Conformation About this news ?
    banned start from which date or etc etc ???

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  • Hari Om
    May 6, 2014 - 10:40AM

    @ Earth on Fire : “What about the HIV which is coming from other countries…….”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    You are grossly misinformed in thinking that Pakistan does not have a significant home grown HIV-AIDS problem and that HIV AIDS is somehow a problem emanating from other countries. For your information Pakistan is one of only 3 countries in the Asia Pacific region where HIV AIDS is growing. Please consult Express Tribune article of a fortnight back:

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/700038/improving-public-health-new-infections-constantly-on-rise-in-pakistan-says-un-envoy/

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  • Dhanish
    May 6, 2014 - 2:46PM

    @imran @musharuf @ earth on fire
    do they even care? Have you ever seen European govt or indian govt crying for Pakistan visa?nope. It’s the other way round. Its your govt who is always complaining to india and western world for denied visa, facilitate easy travel visa ,lax the rules for you etc. yet these countries are reluctant.
    “Present std certificate while entering Pakistan” you are so delusional why would you need std certificate. Do you travel to places to copulate? Std and HIV only spread if you copulate with person, blood exchange etc.
    one more feather should be added to your cap. Comparing HIV,std to polio spread needs iQ testing. While you shun other countries for HIV have you forgotten your own humongous ratio for HIV patients? By same logic you should be screened and provide HIV certificate too along with polio.

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  • world traveller
    May 6, 2014 - 9:42PM

    Afghanistan is on the same page as pakistan you fool, infact they are worse than us,its all coming in from afghanistan a point that no body seems to notice as its not normal polio its wild poliovirus !! @World traveler:

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  • careful reader
    May 14, 2014 - 10:49AM

    just this who sanction alone is grounds for dissolving the current government

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  • Kamran
    May 16, 2014 - 5:13PM

    I’m holding a pakistani passport & Live in China for many years,next month I’m travelling to United States,.worry if I need a Polio Vaccine too..The govt of Pakistan or WHO should clarify about our concern…Thank you.

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  • Abdul
    Jul 10, 2014 - 1:32PM

    @Truth Detector: Actually not such bad news. Pakistan govt. could ask for aid for the preservation of the polio virus.

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