11 September 2015
South African Medical Research Council plays crucial part in global polio eradication
Scientists, public health experts and advocacy groups converged in Johannesburg to discuss strategies on polio eradication. The Stakeholder Symposium on Polio Eradication and Laboratory Containment in South Africa took place at the Garden Court Hotel, OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg from 10 to 11 September 2015.
“South Africa is currently polio free but maintaining this status requires an intensive approach to the containment of the virus,” said Symposium Chair Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele. “The next three years are crucial in completely eliminating and containing polio across the globe,” he said.
In 1988, the World Health Assembly’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched the polio eradication and endgame strategic plan 2013-2018 which aims to eliminate and contain the poliovirus by 2018. The number of polio cases have reduced by 99% since the launch of the initiative, leaving 1% of polio cases across the globe.
“This last percentage of polio cases requires an intensive and innovative approach to immunization and surveillance of the virus,” said Mphahlele who is also Vice President at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). “Underpinning discussions was how South Africa’s Department of Health’s practical public health strategies can inform the total eradication of the polio virus globally.”