Vietnam recognized to have eliminated polio

Ha Noi, Dec. 6 (VNA) -- Viet Nam was officially recognized on Oct. 29 to have eliminated polio, making the Western Pacific a polio-free region, announced senior officials at a news briefing in Ha Noi on Dec. 6.

The recognition means that Viet Nam has reached the World Health Organization (WHO) target for eliminating the disease throughout the globe by 2005, five years ahead of schedule.

The achievement was announced by the President of the National Committtee for Recognition of Polio Elimination, Prof. Dao Vong Duc; the Chairman of the National Expanded Immunization Programme, Prof. Dang Duc Trach, and the Head of the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Prof. Hoang Thuy Long; and the Director of the Sabin Vaccine Production Centre, Prof. Nguyen Van Man.

Viet Nam has managed to implement the Expanded Immunization Programme nationwide since 1985 despite financial difficulties.

The Government has spent hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong or tens of millions of US dollars in providing more than 60 million children with three doses of the polio vaccines in the last 15 years, including those in remote mountainous areas.

Although the success has ensured Vietnamese children will be free from polio in the coming century, the Government continues providing the vaccine to children in the six provinces bordering Cambodia and some localities along the common border with China and Laos so as to hold any possible infection from these countries at bay.

It is also a strategy to protect the achievement of 2001-2005.

Southeast Asia and the Near and Middle East have yet to be recognized as polio free.--VNA