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PESHAWAR, May 6: The World Health Organisation has declared the spread of polio an international public health emergency. The WHO said that polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East require an international response, and it named Pakistan as one of only a few countries which risk spreading the poliovirus to other countries in 2014.

WHO officials were speaking after an emergency meeting on the spread of polio in Geneva, says a statement from the organisation.

The Assistant Director General of the WHO, Dr Bruce Aylward, said the spread of the poliovirus from infected countries in 2014 could only be combatted by coordinated international action. May and June are the annual period of high transmission for the virus.

The WHO officials said the number of polio cases had been on the rise in Pakistan and that Pakistanis needed to produce polio vaccination certificate before travelling abroad.

The organisation says the virus is found in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria. The virus is being spread by adult travellers, including refugees. The WHO recommended that citizens of affected countries who travel abroad should carry a vaccination certificate.

India has already imposed ban entry of Pakistani nationals not having the polio vaccination certificates.

Situation in the tribal region of Pakistan is particularly alarming as the Taliban have banned anti-polio vaccination campaigns in many areas.