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Government declares extraordinary polio incident, UNAIR expert offers preventive insights

UNAIR NEWS – The Health Ministry recently declared an extraordinary polio incident in response to reported cases of polio in three children from East Java and Central Java. These cases involve acute flaccid paralysis due to Type 2 poliovirus. Dr. Dominicus Husada DTM&H, MCTM(TP), SpA(K), a pediatrician from Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), shared his professional insights in light of this situation.

Polio has become an international concern, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has established standard procedures for polio treatment. “Polio has been declared an extraordinary incident. The WHO oversees its control; there are international protocols and specific timelines,” he stated.

Over the past few years, polio cases have emerged in Aceh, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, and East Java. Dr. Dominicus attributed this spread to a decline in immunization rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. “During the pandemic, our immunization rates dropped drastically,” he noted.

Discontinuation of immunization, according to immunization principles, leads to the resurgence of diseases. The reduction and cessation of immunization have resulted in the emergence of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (PD3I). “If immunization is halted, diseases will reemerge. We are currently experiencing the consequences; almost all Vaccine-Preventable Diseases cases have sharply increased in 2022-2023,” he explained.

Dr. Dominicus highlighted the absence of a cure for polio, making it a dangerous disease with irreversible damage to patients’ muscle tissue.

“Dead muscle tissue attempts to be covered for by surrounding healthy muscles, yet this dead muscle cannot be regenerated,” said the Head of the Pediatric Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Department of Child Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, UNAIR.

The management of polio patients can only be done through medical rehabilitation. “That’s why prevention is key,” he emphasized.

Polio can be prevented with immunization. According to the Health Ministry’s official website, the National Polio Immunization Sub-Week (PIN) began on Monday, January 15, 2024, in East Java, Central Java, and Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta. The novel oral polio vaccine Type 2 (nOPV2) is expected to reach 8.4 million children aged 0 to 7 years.

The immunization is administered regardless of the individual’s prior immunization history. Typically, for both children and adults, the type of vaccine and the number of injections matter. The success of vaccine protection depends on these two factors. “So far, the vaccine has been very successful. However, as effective as immunizations are, they are a human invention. It’s impossible to develop a vaccine that provides 100% protection; at best, it can achieve 99.9%,” he noted.

The efficacy and protection rate of each vaccine varies depending on different objectives, whether it’s to prevent death, severe illness, mild illness, or transmission. “In the PIN or sub-PIN, any immunizations that have been received previously are not taken into consideration. All targets need to receive the PIN immunization as per the regulations,” he said.

The efficacy of immunization also depends on the fulfilled requirements and conditions, including the child’s health. “In children with malnutrition, the success of immunization will significantly decrease. So, there are many factors to consider, and it’s not just the completeness of immunization that is evaluated,” he concluded.

Author: Yulia Rohmawati

Editor: Feri Fenoria

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