Polio rehabilitation in Tajikistan

An outbreak of poliomyelitis (polio) due to wild poliovirus type 1 started in Tajikistan early in 2010, eight years after the WHO European Region was certified as polio free. The country reported 712 acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases; most patients are recovering, but some have started showing signs of paralysis and deformities. Rehabilitation could benefit all people affected.

On the request of the Ministry of Health of Tajikistan, the WHO Country Office, Tajikistan hired a consultant on rehabilitation to make a rapid assessment survey and a plan of action for building rehabilitation capacity, including the resources required by people affected by polio in Tajikistan. The Ministry also asked the WHO Country Office to train doctors in managing the recovery phase.

The consultant held a half-day training workshop for doctors, focusing particularly on preventing deformities. In addition, the consultant visited some families in rural districts and gave parents some training on how to decrease polio’s harmful effects on their children. Both doctors and parents found the training, particularly the hands-on practice, very valuable.

In addition, the consultant organized a stakeholders’ meeting for all partner organizations and societies for disabled people in the country, including Handicap International, the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) and the Disabled People’s Organization of Tajikistan. Organizations such as Operation Mercy and Handicap International were very interested in extending polio rehabilitation in the country and conducting regular training for medical personnel and parents, and have begun to organize such work in Tajikistan.