Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Polio Rearing Ugly Head in Middle East

            One of the most devastating diseases in the history of man has resurfaced in Afghanistan. Polio is back, and it’s the first confirmed case in Kubul since 2001.

Children receive vaccination on the outskirts of Jalalabad.
Photo Courtesy of:
Noorullah Shirzada/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
            Health officials say a three-year-old girl contracted the disease Tuesday. Although it is the first confirmed case in almost 13 years, Polio is still living in Afghanistan.
            Health officials say that most cases of Polio in Afghanistan can be traced back to Pakistan. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries where Polio is still common.
            Last year Pakistan and Nigeria reported 93 cases and 53 cases respectively. Afghanistan, however, has been able to reduce its number of polio cases from 80 in 2011 to 14 last year.
            Other children near the infected girl were not infected. Afghanistan director of Unicef Akhil Iyer says there wasn’t an outbreak, which shows that immunization wise the population, is well protected.
            Unicef, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization are attempting to keep polio in Kubul. Iyer says the country should be able to completely remove the disease from the country by 2015.
            Militants have attacked vaccination campaigns in Pakistan leading to several deaths of campaign workers and the police guarding them.
            Taliban members believe that the campaigns are covers for spying. The Pakistani Taliban have a right to be skeptical because the C-I-A used vaccination campaigns to find Osama Bin Laden.

            According to, however, Afghanistan’s Taliban have given full support to the Red Cross workers.

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