The Dominican Republic is one of the countries with a high risk of polio infections after reappearance in the US

The director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne, on Wednesday encouraged the governments of the continent to boost vaccinations against polio, after its reappearance in the United States this summer.

"America has been polio-free for 30 years. We know what we have to do and we’ve done it before"defended Etienne during a press conference, in which he criticized the low vaccination rates in the region, which barely exceed 60% in countries such as Brazil or Guatemala.

Wild poliovirus had not appeared in America for nearly three decades, until at the end of July a man was paralyzed by the disease in New York City, in the United States, causing alarm among health authorities.

Recently, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul declared a health emergency after the virus was detected in sewage from several counties.

Although the disease has not been detected at the moment in other countries of America, six territories –Brazil, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Venezuela and Suriname- are at high risk due to low immunization rates.

Etienne assured have written to regional leaders asking them to launch new efforts to boost immunizationand said to have given "administrative steps" for PAHO to provide assistance to Governments in need.

It is the first time in decades that a polio outbreak has been detected on the continent, a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis within hours.

In 1988, the World Health Organization launched an international public health campaign with the goal of eradicating polio by 2000, but in 2020 cases were reported in 34 countriesmainly from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

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Etienne blamed the low immunization rates in the region, in part, on mistrust caused by anti-vaccine movements during the covid-19 health emergency, and encouraged governments in the region to combat misinformation through awareness programs. public.

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