Latest polio update from Tajikistan and central Asia

As of 19 May 2010, Tajikistan has reported 432 acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases of which 129 have been laboratory confirmed for wild poliovirus type 1. All laboratory-confirmed cases reported so far are from the capital Dushanbe and surrounding provinces, and Khatlon oblast in the south-western part of the country.

Of the 129 confirmed poliomyelitis (polio) cases, 27 (21%) are children under 1 year of age, 80 (62%) are 1–5 years of age, 15 (12%) are 6–14 years of age, and 7 (5%) are 15 years of age or older.

During the first round of the polio vaccination programme, 1 129 168 people (97% of the target population) received the first of three doses of monovalent oral polio vaccine (mOPV1). The second round of the nationwide vaccination campaign is nearly complete (18–22 May) while the third round will take place on 1–5 June.

WHO’s international expert team continues to conduct a detailed outbreak investigation and provide technical assistance to the Government of Tajikistan together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other key partners. WHO works closely with Tajikistan’s neighbours in the WHO European Region (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) on preparedness and response measures. WHO is also conducting risk assessments to identify other Member States at high risk of transmission of wild poliovirus should importation occur.

Update from the neighbouring region and the Russian Federation

The governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have strengthened surveillance and begun or will soon begin vaccination campaigns. Together with its international partners, WHO has deployed expert teams to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to help strengthen surveillance and to support national and subregional vaccination activities.


In Uzbekistan, 29 AFP cases have been reported since January 2010. So far, 23 have been laboratory negative and 6 are pending laboratory results. With UNICEF and other key partners, WHO is helping to implement and monitor a two-round national polio immunization campaign aiming to reach almost 2.9 million children under 5 years of age to ensure high immunity against poliovirus.

The first round of the campaign began on 17 May and, by the end of the second day, the Ministry of Health reported high coverage (69%). International monitors in every oblast have reported high attendance at health facilities. The second round is scheduled for 7–13 June 2010.


The Government of Kazakhstan has strengthened surveillance for AFP cases and is in close contact with WHO about preparedness and planning. The Ministry of Health plans to conduct one round of polio vaccination in July 2010 targeting over 1.8 million children under the age of 6 years. The vaccines are currently being procured.


The Government of Turkmenistan has also strengthened surveillance for AFP cases and is in close contact with WHO about preparedness and planning. The Ministry of Health plans a national polio vaccination campaign for children under 5 years of age. The purchase of 1 million doses of vaccine is currently under way, but external assistance is needed to purchase some further 500 000 doses.

Russian Federation

As of 18 May 2010, the Russian Federation has reported one imported laboratory-confirmed case of polio in a 9-month-old child with AFP. The child arrived in Irkutsk, Russian Federation, from Tajikistan on 1 May. The Russian Federation has enhanced AFP surveillance and is immunizing susceptible populations.

Partners and funders

WHO works in close partnership with UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States of America, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Save the Children International.

The international effort to bring the polio outbreak under control has received financial support from Rotary International, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). WHO and UNICEF are actively mobilizing resources to support the cost of preparedness and response activities.