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Global certification


Global certification is the scientific confirmation of the success of a disease eradication programme by the World Health Organization and public health experts. Before the world can be formally certified polio-free, all six WHO regions (Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Western Pacfic, South East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean) must first be certified. This involves going through an intensive three-year surveillance process without recording any polio cases caused by the wild virus in that region. Once three years has passed without a single case of polio anywhere, then the world will be formally certified polio-free.


Individual countries cannot be certified polio-free.  However, if a country goes one full year without recording any case of indigenous polio (i.e. a strain native to that country, rather than a strain imported from another country), it will be removed from WHO’s list of polio-endemic countries.


The Global Polio Eradication Initiative aims to assist governments in their efforts to immunize every child against polio until polio transmission has stopped.  The world would then enter the three-year process of “certification”. This will be a critical period for the eradication programme, as nations and communities keep a global polio watch. 


During this time UNICEF and its partners will continue to vaccinate children to keep the “immunity wall” high and prevent any hidden poliovirus from causing a sudden outbreak.  The partnership will continue to play a vital role in assisting communities and local governments to set up surveillance systems and to remain ever vigilant so that no polio case slips through the net.


Only when three years have passed without a case and the world has been certified polio-free can we say we have achieved global eradication.