One of the main milestones on the global journey to poliovirus eradication is certification, the formal verification that an area is polio-free. Last month, this marker received a digital upgrade.
Following the resolution passed at the World Health Assembly in 1988 to eradicate poliomyelitis, the Global Certification Commission was established to lead the formal certification process for polio-free regions.
In 1995, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region established the Regional Certification Commission (RCC). The RCC comprises public health experts and scientists who independently review and assess national data and documentation of activities and reports submitted by National Polio Eradication Committees for all countries in the Region.
The RCC has an important objective: it reviews annual certification reports submitted by countries in the Region to identify gaps in polio-free countries and recommends appropriate risk mitigation measures. It also works closely with National Certification Committees (NCCs) and other groups, and reviews progress towards certification of polio eradication and laboratory containment of poliovirus stocks.
Each year, the RCC meets with CNC members from countries in the Region, Global Polio Eradication Initiative stakeholders and Ministries of Health to review the epidemiological situation, progress and submit recommendations to country.
In May, the RCC gathered for its 36th meeting in Dubai. Speaking at the event, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr Al-Mandhari, expressed his appreciation for the RCC’s efforts to support polio eradication in the Region. “I am pleased to inform you that thanks to your efforts, 20 of the 22 countries in our Region have achieved the standards required for polio certification. With significant progress in the last 2 endemic countries in our Region, we are closer than ever to polio eradication.
This year, the RCC reviewed reports from Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. . The reports had been provisionally accepted pending review based on the RCC’s comments. For Afghanistan and Pakistan, their progress reports were reviewed and rated by the RCC.
During the meeting, the RCC approved the new electronic annual certification report (e-ACR) system, effectively removing the system from beta status and moving it to established practice and agreed that certification reports be submitted. via this system before the 37th RCC. see you in 2023.
The e-ACR, as a recommendation of the RCC at the 33rd meeting in 2019, was developed as a web-based system to mimic the offline workflow including submission, review, approval and archiving of the data declared in the annual certification reports. It enables personalized and structured data entry that will help users easily retrieve data for comparison and analysis with previous years’ reports – a process that previously relied on records kept in multiple separate systems, or even paper records.
Following the development of the software, 65 participants representing the RCC, NCCs and Ministry of Health focal points from 13 countries were trained in 2 separate sessions in May and June 2022. Feedback and recommendations from these trainings are in integration course in the e-ACR system. A third training is planned for September 2022 for representatives of the remaining 9 countries of the Region.
The introduction of the innovative e-ACR system makes the Region one of the leaders among other WHO Regions in digital archiving of all certification reports. This system not only facilitates easy retrieval of data, but also enables the next generation of disease eradicators to learn from the experience of certification and the polio eradication process.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.
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