The good news: No new cases of wild poliovirus (WPV) caused paralysis reported so far in 2024, but with 9 positive environmental samples for WPV type 1 (7 in Afghanistan & 3 in Pakistan)— the risk is still out there for unvaccinated/undervaccinated. Total WPV cases worldwide in 2023: 12, down from 30 cases in 2022.          

News items continue on the polio outbreak in Indonesia. Preliminary investigations indicate that the virus might have been circulating undetected, with three cases found between October 2022 and February 2023. Among the afflicted children, 9 were asymptomatic, while 2 showed clinical symptoms requiring intensive care. (Note: these were all cVDPV cases).  

The resurgence of the disease is attributed to the high mobility of the population and disruptions to immunization programs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A joint study by the University of Sydney and Universitas Indonesia highlighted a significant decline in health services, including vaccine access, during the pandemic. This disruption led to many children missing out on timely vaccinations. 

Following the killings of police guards in Pakistan, more attention is being put on the disturbing and consistent pattern of violence against those working to eradicate polio from the country. Since 2012, a total of 109 people have been killed in polio-related incidents, with 162 individuals, including policemen, health workers and civilians, suffering injuries during this period. These attacks inflict harm on those directly involved in the eradication efforts but also hinder the progress made in eliminating the disease and tarnish the reputation of the country on the global stage. There is an urgent need for enhanced security and to prioritize the safety of polio workers. Education campaigns must be intensified to dispel myths surrounding polio vaccination and emphasize the importance of immunization to safeguard the health of children.