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Africa Regional Certification Commission

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The Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) is a 16-person board appointed by the World Health Organization regional director for Africa in 1998. The group was tasked with overseeing the eradication of the wild poliovirus from the African continent.[1] It is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and led by Rose Leke as chairperson.[2][3] The independent body is the only organization recognized to certify that polio has been eradicated from the region.[4]

On 25 August 2020, the commission declared that wild polio has been eliminated in Africa.[5] It required that 95% of the population of Africa be immunized as a condition for certification.[6] The last reported case of polio in the region was on 21 August 2016, in Borno, Nigeria.[3]

To address the growing challenge of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses, the GPEI’s new ‘Strategy for the Response to Type 2 Circulating Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus 2020-2021’ is focused on working with affected and at-risk countries to control circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses outbreaks ongoing across the African Region.

The first stage of this targeted strategy involved launching a rapid response team specifically to respond to circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses. Formed in September 2019, the team is coordinated from WHO’s Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville and is composed of 20 experts in operations and vaccination management, epidemiology, logistics, and communications, drawn from GPEI’s core partners.

Even one case is an outbreak which requires immediate action. Every time a new polio outbreak is confirmed or even suspected in the African Region, the team is dispatched to the country within 72 hours. They quickly get to work, putting together the building blocks in place for a six-month outbreak response. Outbreaks are usually rapidly stopped with 2 to 3 rounds of high quality supplementary immunizations.

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