On 11 September, two additional polio cases were reported from Eastern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea, bringing the outbreak total to 12. The distribution of confirmed cases is as follows:  four in Eastern Highlands, three in Morobe, two in Enga, two in Madang and one in the National Capital District.

Image/CDC-/ Meredith Boyter Newlove, M.S., James Archer, M.S.
Image/CDC-/ Meredith Boyter Newlove, M.S., James Archer, M.S.

Papua New Guinea’s National Department of Health (NDOH) today announced that polio vaccination will be expanded to cover all children aged up to 15 years. The polio vaccination campaign targeting children in the National Capital District will begin on 24 September. It will be expanded to the rest of the country from 1 October 2018.

“In the next round of the polio vaccination campaign, we’re aiming to reach more than 3.3 million children aged 0 to 15 years across the country,” said Pasco Kase, Secretary of the National Department of Health. “Increasing the age of those eligible for vaccination will enable us to protect more children from polio, and help stop transmission of the virus.”

Papua New Guinea: First polio case reported in Port Moresby

“WHO has now deployed more than 50 international polio workers who are responding to the outbreak alongside Government counterparts,” said Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO Representative in Papua New Guinea. “To better manage the overall response operations, WHO has established an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the national level and similar EOCs are being established in the 22 provinces of the country. To date, 12 Provincial EOCs are already operational and 10 more are being set up in time for the nationwide campaign.”

The Government of Papua New Guinea declared a Public Health Emergency on 26 June 2018 after confirmation that poliovirus is circulating in the country. Two rounds of the polio vaccination campaign have been conducted; the first round in July targeted children under 5 years old in three provinces (Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands); the second round in August covered 9 provinces (Morobe, Madang, Eastern Highlands, Enga, Chimbu, Southern Highlands, Western Highlands, Jiwaka and Hela).