WHO scales up polio surveillance capabilities in Iran

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The donated sequencing machine by the World Health Organization (WHO), renowned for its precision and versatility, will significantly boost the genetic sequencing capabilities of the NPL. This advanced equipment drastically reduces the time required for sequencing the virus genome, enabling the laboratory to transform the process from days to just a few hours. This milestone empowers the NPL to conduct high-quality, reliable genetic sequencing of samples, facilitating prompt public health interventions.

Genetic sequencing plays a pivotal role in the battle against polioviruses. It helps confirm their detection, pinpoint their likely origin, track their geographic spread, and determine the most appropriate vaccination response. Furthermore, the enhanced capabilities of the NPL will enable it to support neighboring countries, particularly those last strongholds of the wild poliovirus in the region, by sequencing their polio samples.

“The WHO country office of Iran is unwavering in its commitment to maintaining the country’s polio-free status, a remarkable achievement observed for the past 23 years since 2000. This commitment is realized through various capacity-building initiatives and activities,” said Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative and Head of Mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran.  

“WHO supports the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) by providing essential laboratory supplies and equipment, enhancing the technical expertise of National Polio Reference lab experts, and aiding the detection of poliovirus in both humans and the environment through Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) and environmental surveillance, respectively”, Hussain added.  

He underscored that in addition to these efforts, the WHO continues to stand by the MOHME in conducting mass vaccination campaigns during outbreaks and ensuring the containment of polioviruses. This comprehensive approach is an essential component of the global mission to end polio. It aligns with international health regulations, notably the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), to safeguard public health in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the neighboring countries. 

On World Polio Day 2023, the WHO and the NPL of Iran reaffirm their commitment to eradicating polio and ensuring a healthier future for all.

MNA

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