WHO polio virus containment programme

In 2015 the WHO declared that polio caused by poliovirus type 2 had been eradicated. However the virus is still being handled and/or stored in a number of laboratories and other facilities. For example, it can be used in research. The WHO considered this to be risky. We must prevent the virus from unintentionally being released into the environment via these facilities and, with that, reduce the risk of a new polio outbreak.

Countries where polio virus type 2 is still being handled have signed a resolution to minimise risks which arise from storing the virus. The virus has to be contained and that means facilities will have to start complying with even stricter conditions than is currently the case. What is more, the number of locations at which the type 2 polio virus is being handled must be kept to a minimum.

National Authority for Containment

In the Netherlands the Minister designated the Healthcare and Youth Inspectorate as the National Authority for Containment (NAC) of polio. In the future the WHO only wants to work with facilities that fulfil strict rules, as laid down in the Global Action Plan, GAPIII. These are the so-called Polio Essential Facilities (PEFs). The NAC is responsible for enforcing the GAPIII requirements as well as monitoring whether these PEFs fulfil the rules for a certificate as described in the annexes to the GAPIII.

Phase 1 of GAPIII started in 2015 with the containment of the type 2 polio virus. This involved drawing up an inventory of which facilities still stored the polio virus. Since 2016 we have been engaged in phase 2. During this phase countries have designated PEFs where the remaining polio virus material is allowed to be kept. PEFs can apply for a certificate from the NAC. If they comply with all the requirements of GAPIII, the NAC issues the certificate in consultation with the WHO.