The critical role of acute flaccid paralysis surveillance in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

Int Health. 2017 May 1;9(3):156-163. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihx016.


Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance is a key strategy used by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to measure progress towards reaching the global eradication goal. Supported by a global polio laboratory network, AFP surveillance is conducted in 179 of 194 WHO member states. Active surveillance visits to priority health facilities are used to assure all children <15 years with AFP are detected, followed by stool specimen collection and testing for poliovirus in WHO-accredited polio laboratories. The quality of AFP surveillance is regularly monitored with standardized surveillance quality indicators. In highest risk countries and areas, the sensitivity of AFP surveillance is enhanced by environmental surveillance (testing of sewage samples). Genetic sequencing of detected poliovirus isolates yields programmatically important information on polio transmission pathways. AFP surveillance is one of the most valuable assets of the GPEI, with the potential to serve as a platform to build integrated disease surveillance systems. Continued support to maintain AFP surveillance systems will be essential, to reliably monitor the completion of global polio eradication, and to assure that a key resource for building surveillance capacity is transitioned post-eradication to support other health priorities.

Keywords: Acute flaccid paralysis; Environmental surveillance; Polio eradication; Poliovirus; Surveillance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Disease Eradication*
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Hypotonia / epidemiology
  • Paralysis / epidemiology*
  • Poliomyelitis / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Population Surveillance*