An advisory from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Monday states that passengers traveling to Egypt from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malawi, Mozambique, and Congo must now provide an international polio vaccination certificate (OPV or IPV) as per Egyptian authorities’ requirements. Foreign nationals who have stayed in these countries for more than four weeks are also obligated to furnish proof of polio vaccination for entry into Egypt.
In the preceding month, the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee, responsible for assessing the global spread of poliovirus, expressed concerns about Pakistan’s efforts to reach a significant number of children through its polio eradication campaign.
During a session called by the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general on August 16, 2023, the committee highlighted the challenges in Pakistan and Afghanistan’s polio elimination initiatives. It underscored the ongoing risk of a polio outbreak in Pakistan, citing recent positive environmental samples from Peshawar and Karachi.
The committee noted that Pakistan had reported a new case of WPV1 since the last meeting, bringing the 2023 total to two cases, both of which occurred in the Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. Throughout the year, at least 15 environmental surveillance-positive samples were identified.
Despite efforts, challenges persist in southern KP, including political instability, insecurity in some areas necessitating police patrols for front-line workers, and vaccination boycotts where communities demand other services in exchange for allowing polio vaccination, the committee added.
In response to the emergency committee’s statement, Pakistan’s caretaker health minister, Dr. Nadeem Jan, stated that strengthening routine immunization and expanding coverage for zero doses through outreach campaigns would aid in polio eradication efforts in the country.
Regarding Afghanistan, the emergency committee reported five new WPV1 cases in Nangarhar province, with onsets from April to May 2023 in five different districts.
The committee cautioned that any setback in Afghanistan poses a risk to the program in Pakistan due to high population movement. It also noted that in 2023, only two genetic clusters of WPV1 were identified, compared to three in 2022 and five in 2021.
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