South-East Asia declared polio freeListen /
The South-East Asia Region has been certified as polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The region covers 11 countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
The World Health Organization says the certification of the South East Asia region as polio free means up to 80 per cent of the world population now lives in certified polio free regions.
WHO says although the certification was a momentous occasion, countries in the region must continue to strengthen their disease surveillance systems to check against the importation of polio, while at the same time maintaining a high immunization coverage.
The organization says until polio is globally eradicated, all countries are at risk and the region's polio-free status remains fragile.
Polio remains endemic in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
There has also been outbreaks reported in Syria , Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel, West Bank and Gaza, Kenya and Somalia.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.