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Philippines polio outbreak over: UN

A polio outbreak in the Philippines has ended, according to the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund, which praised government efforts to fight the disease despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The UN agencies said in a joint statement on Friday that the Philippine Department of Health concluded its response to the polio outbreak on June 3 after no cases were detected for 16 months following a massive immunisation campaign and surveillance.

Philippine health officials announced that polio had re-emerged in the country in September 2019, nearly two decades after the WHO had declared the Southeast Asian nation free of the viral disease, which can cause paralysis and death. There is no known cure.

Government health officials, backed by the WHO and UNICEF, considerably expanded an anti-polio campaign which continued despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

About 30 million doses of oral polio vaccine were administered to children across the Philippines.

“This is a major win for public health and is an excellent example of what collective efforts can attain, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Doctor Rabindra Abeyasinghe, who represents the WHO in the Philippines, said.

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