First giant step forward in poliovirus containment achieved in WHO European Region

WHO/Eugene Gavrilin

Progress towards global poliovirus containment reached a major milestone on 31 October 2017, when the first application for a certificate of participation (CP) was submitted for consideration to the Containment Working Group of the Global Certification Commission (CWG-GCC).

This first CP application marks the start of the containment certification process, both in the Region and worldwide. It sets in motion a process that, if successful, will result in certification of a poliovirus essential facility (PEF). Such certification requires full compliance with and annual assessment of 16 elements of the WHO global action plan to minimize poliovirus facility-associated risk after type-specific eradication of wild polioviruses and sequential cessation of oral polio vaccine use (GAPIII).

Poliovirus containment is one of the objectives of the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018. This global initiative has accelerated in recent months as Member States make tremendous efforts to:

  • conduct an inventory of all facilities that currently handle or store polioviruses; and
  • destroy poliovirus materials that do not serve any critical national or international functions.

Every facility keeping polioviruses for vaccine production, diagnosis or crucial research focused on strengthening polio prevention and control should be certified as a PEF in accordance with GAPIII requirements and by using the containment certification scheme (CCS). The goal is to minimize the risk of reintroduction of this crippling disease.