World Health Organization
منظمة الصحة العالمية
Organisation mondiale de la Santé

Immunization and surveillance programmes strengthened in Yemen


22 November 2013 — The Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen, in collaboration with WHO Yemen and UNICEF, held on Thursday an evaluation meeting in Sana’a on immunization and acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance in Yemen.

The meeting was held to prepare for the next round of national immunization days, review the immunization programme (routine and supplementary immunization activities) and AFP surveillance, update the participants on the national, regional global status of polio outbreak. The meeting came in light of critical epidemiological situation in the Middle East and Horn of Africa.

Yemen has been polio-free since 2006, which is considered a great accomplishment in a country struggling with harsh economic, political and health challenges.

Director-generals of health offices, managers of immunization programmes, AFP surveillance coordinators and social mobilization coordinators in the governorates gathered to consider the impact of the Region's epidemiological situation on Yemen and the actions needed to minimize the risk of wild poliovirus importation.

Professor Ahmed Qasem Al-Ansi, the Minister of Public Health and Population, said "From now on, we will seriously evaluate the health offices in the governorates according to their performance in immunization programmes. The country has been facing several challenges and the immunization is among our main priorities. We are lucky that the virus has not been reported in Yemen since 2006. But we should stay alert."

Last October, WHO confirmed an outbreak of polio in the Syrian Arab Republic. THe Ministry of Public Health and Population with the support of WHO conducted an immunization campaign as a preventive measure.

"The situation is critical and risky. What's required is vigilance from all of us and this issue identified as a top priority," said Dr Osama Mere (WHO Medical Officer), urging surveillance team to step up their efforts. "Immunization is our first line of defence."

In 2013, four rounds of supplementary immunization activities were implemented, including national immunization days, which led to high rates of coverage.

Related link

Urgent action to address the escalating polio emergency that now threatens all Eastern Mediterranean Region Member States