Sudan – Sudan has contained its outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following an on-sight assessment by a team of experts from WHO, UNICEF and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the polio outbreak in Sudan has successfully stopped and declared closed.

WHO said that Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health declared the cVDPV2 outbreak during a difficult time of multiple emergencies, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown while noting that economic downturn and political instability were additional challenges during the start of the outbreak.

The Ministry of Health of the Republic of South Sudan scaled emergency preparedness and response strategies after the country confirmed that in 15 out of 18 states, the outbreak was caused by a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus strain imported from Chad.

While the international spread is a reminder that polio anywhere is a risk to children everywhere, the closure of Sudan’s outbreak shows what can be achieved with strong national commitment and high-quality vaccination campaigns, on-the-ground leadership, sensitive surveillance measures, and essential immunizations.

The agency further said that the Federal Ministry of Health worked with partners and implemented a robust outbreak response plan that included 2 rounds of high-quality campaigning, highlighting that Sudan is an example of how an early, rapid and coordinated response can stop an outbreak.

Backed by UNICEF and WHO, the Federal Ministry of Health successfully organized 2 nationwide vaccination campaigns targeting children under-5 years of age to contain the spread of poliovirus, reaching over 95% of the target population.

Community engagement and social mobilization efforts were also stepped up to ensure information about the dangers of the disease and the need to immunize every eligible child reached every household.

The public health milestone announcement comes after virtual and in-country reviews of Sudan’s response to the outbreak and its surveillance system by a team of experts in polio eradication, global public health, epidemiology, and vaccine management.

According to WHO, the final Outbreak Response Assessment, held between 24th July and 1st August 2022, included interviews and reviews of reports and records with surveillance and immunization staff at state, locality, and health facility levels.

WHO pointed out that the findings of the Outbreak Response Assessment, coupled with the absence of the cVDPV2 virus for more than 18 months in the presence of sustained high-quality poliovirus surveillance, make it possible to conclude that the cVDPV2 outbreak can now be declared closed.

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean highlighted that the closure of the polio outbreak speaks to the skill and diligence of health workers and public health officials in Sudan.

The closure of this outbreak speaks to the extraordinary commitment of the Government of Sudan demonstrated by allocation of significant domestic financial resources to the response, during one of the most challenging periods of the COVID-19 pandemic,” concluded Dr Ahmed.

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