Malawi hosts 29th Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Poliomyelitis Eradication meeting
Malawi was chosen to host the ARCC meeting because it is a polio-affected country, having declared an outbreak of wild poliomyelitis on February 17th.
Malawi: The 29th Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Poliomyelitis Eradication meeting is being held in Malawi from June 6 to 10, 2022.
The ARCC meeting is taking place in Lilongwe at the Bingu International Conference Centre.
The meeting was officially opened on June 7, 2022, by the Honorable Enock Phale, Deputy Minister of Health, and Professor Rose Leke, Chairperson of the ARCC.
Malawi was chosen to host the ARCC meeting because it is a polio-affected country, having declared an outbreak of wild poliomyelitis on February 17 after the virus type was confirmed.
This was Malawi's first case of wild poliovirus since 1992, and Africa's first since the continent was declared free of indigenous wild poliovirus in 2020.
The ARCC meeting in Lilongwe will also look over annual certification update reports from six countries: Malawi, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and Senegal. These reports enable the ARCC and its secretariat to track countries' and the African Region's overall progress toward polio eradication.
Enock Phale, Deputy Minister of Health, praised the commission, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners for their ongoing financial and technical assistance in the fight against polio.
He said: “As a country, we are implementing different strategies to address the current wild poliovirus outbreak. However, we are looking forward to additional RCCA recommendations to guide on how we can move forward as a country to ensure that we address and stop wild poliovirus circulation and prevent future outbreaks.”
Dr. Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo, WHO Representative in Malawi, stated that the ARCC meeting is critical because it provides a platform for countries to share experiences while the commission provides guidance that informs country policies and actions toward polio eradication.
“The discussions during this meeting will provide an opportunity for the country and the region to strengthen global polio eradication activities, the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), Environmental Surveillance, and immunization systems,” said Dr Neema Kimambo, WHO Representative in Malawi.
ARCC chairperson Professor Rose Leke said WPV1 outbreak in Malawi was a shock to ARCC especially in achieving the global polio eradication milestones. “The ARCC proposed to hold the meeting in Malawi to learn about the response activities going on in the country to stop the wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) transmission and to advocate for continued strong political commitment. It is necessary for the country to have very highly sensitive surveillance, high quality vaccination response activities and strengthen routine immunization to ensure that no child is left behind.”
Furthermore, the emergence of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, such as Circulating Vaccine Derived Polioviruses (cVDPV), in most countries is concerning for ARCC.
"ARCC remains vigilant and continues to monitor and advocate for high-quality interventions in countries to bridge immunity and surveillance gaps and stop the cVDPV," Professor Leke said.
ARCC is an independent body established in 1998 by WHO's Regional Director to oversee the certification process and certified the African region free of indigenous wild poliovirus.
ARCC is currently evaluating the dependability of data in documentation submitted by National Certification Committees to ensure that countries are adhering to the criteria established for global WPV certification.
ARCC meets twice a year to review progress in the annual certification updates of selected countries on polio eradication activities of all 47 WHO African region member states.
The meeting in Lilongwe is the first face-to-face meeting since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.