WHO commends Iraq’s world-first in polio transition

Surveillance and municipality staff from five governorates were trained on sewage sample collection, packaging and transportation of samples to the National Polio Laboratory1 April 2024 – As of January 2024, Iraq has achieved the polio transition process in full. It is the first country among the polio transition priority countries to achieve this remarkable feat.

Polio transition involves repurposing polio assets – knowledge, network and infrastructure – to strengthen the broader public health functions of a country within the overall context of strengthening the national health system. These wider functions include immunization, vaccine-preventable diseases surveillance, and emergency preparedness and response.

To safeguard polio essential functions through sustainable resources, it is crucial to achieve the full transition by shifting from external to domestic financing. In turn, successful polio transition and the integration and maintenance of polio assets to strengthen routine immunization, disease surveillance and outbreak response have social and economic benefits and offer a very high return on investment.

Dr Hanan Balkhy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, commended Iraq’s public health win and the positive impact it will yield: “I would like to congratulate Iraq for the achievement of polio transition in full in a considerably short period of time. This is a great step towards enhancing the health system’s resilience and regaining its capabilities to better serve the Iraqi population, making the best use

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