Surging Cases of Polio Create New Health Challenge in Afghanistan

Afghan health officials in Kandahar confirm that positive polio cases have increased in the southern areas, and three new cases have recently been reported in the area.

Abdul Qayum Pakhla, head of the Polio Virus Operations Center in the southern region, told the Reporterly on Wednesday that three new polio cases were registered in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Pakhla added that these new cases have been registered in Baghran district of Helmand, Zheray district of Kandahar and Shahid Hasa district of Uruzgan. The number of polio cases in the south has reached 26 this year, including 8 in Kandahar, 12 in Helmand, and 4 in Uruzgan and one in each provinces of Zabul and Nimroz.

He noted that children who have recently been permanently paralyzed have not received any polio vaccines, nor have they been vaccinated through health centers.

The most positive polio cases are in the areas under the Taliban control

Abdul Qayum Pakhla added that out of 26 cases registered in the southern area, 22 of them were in the Taliban-controlled areas, which the polio campaign team does not have access to, and in these areas have been under security threats for the polio team for the last two years.

According to him, out of a total of 26 positive cases of polio in the southern area, 4 cases were recorded in areas where there is access to polio services.
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Rising positive polio cases in Afghanistan

Qayum Pakhla stressed that in 2019, 29 positive cases of polio were registered in the country, but since the beginning of 2020, 37 cases have been registered throughout Afghanistan, 26 of which are in the southern part of the country.

He called the outbreak of coronavirus one of the factors that increased the positive cases of polio and stressed that with the outbreak of this virus, the activities of the polio campaign in Afghanistan have stopped and this has caused the positive cases of polio to increase.

According to Pakhla in the southern zone, only two campaigns have been carried out so far this year, and the polio campaign is scheduled to start next Saturday in two districts of Kandahar for four days, followed by a polio campaign across the southern zone next month.

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