Maintaining the Region of the Americas free of polio: best practices for incident management support teams

Emanuele et al.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and its Member States have been leading the efforts to eradicate wild poliovirus in the Region of Americas since smallpox's successful elimination in 1971. The region became the first to be certified free of wild poliovirus in 1994. However, in July 2022, an unvaccinated patient with no recent travel history was diagnosed with poliomyelitis in the United States of America. In response to the emergence of a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus in the United States, PAHO established the Polio Incident Management Support Team. This team has been coordinating response efforts, focusing on: coordination, planning, and monitoring; risk communication and community engagement; surveillance and case investigation; vaccination; and rapid response. In this paper, we identified and documented best practices observed following establishment of the Incident Management Support Team (September 2022–2023) through a comprehensive review and analysis of various data sources and country-specific data from the polio surveillance dashboard. The aim was to share these best practices, highlighting technical support and implementation of polio measures by Member States. Despite several challenges, the Americas region remains polio-free. Polio risk is declining, with a July 2023 assessment showing fewer countries at medium, high, and very high risk. This progress reflects improved immunization coverage, surveillance, containment, health determinants, and outbreak preparedness and response. The PAHO Polio Incident Management Support Team has played a key role in supporting these efforts.

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