ASIA has joined the growing ranks of polio-free regions, the World Health Organisation declared this week.

“This is a momentous victory,” Samantha Chivers, Global Health Campaign Manager at anti-poverty organisation RESULTS International (Australia), said.

Polio is a viral infection that spreads through poor sanitation and can be easily prevented with cheap and effective vaccines.

“The toll of polio on society has been enormous throughout human history. Eradicating this horrific disease is a fantastic legacy of our time,” she continued.

According to the WHO, 80 per cent of the world’s population now live in polio-free certified regions.

“The challenge now is to keep the momentum going. Outbreaks in Syria and Israel show just how easy it is for polio to cross a border and be reintroduced to countries that had previously eliminated it,” Samantha said.

“Three years without a polio case in all of South and South-East Asia show that polio eradication is possible, and now is the time to redouble our efforts,” Samantha added.

“We have to invest now or we will keep paying forever.”