In 1988, the forty-first World Health Assembly, consisting then of delegates from 166 Member States, adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launching of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF.
Hence, since 2003 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) have maintained Technical Service Agreement (TSA), under which the WHO Polio Regional Reference Laboratory(PRRL) housed by the virology Department is mandated to perform certain functions purposely to support the Global Poliomyelitis Virus Eradication Initiative.
The functions had been descriptively defined as follows:
1. Confirm clinical cases of poliomyelitis from stool specimens of acute flaccid paralytic patients, through the isolation, and where applicable to perform intratypic differentiation or typing of the viral isolates of patients in country of location, or from WHO designated country that have no national virology laboratories.
2. Perform edipdemiological surveys in collaboration with the national program coordinator, whenever knowledge of the antibody status of the population of a given cohort is required
3. Send L20B positive isolates to WHO reference/ITD laboratories for more complete ITD characterization and comparison with isolates from other countries.
4. Carry out confirmatory testing on requests of stool specimens from a country with a laboratory which is not designated as a WHO National Polio Laboratory.
5. Prepare and send weekly laboratory data to the National Program on Immunization, Country Office and WHO/AFRO
Currently the PRRL is serving Ghana, Togo, Mali, and Benin with the laboratory surveillance of all poliomyelitis cases.