August 2020, saw Africa become free of the wild poliovirus. A virus that continues to affect two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UNICEF Chief of Immunization has recently expressed concerns over the circulation of the virus in the country. He said that the circulation of the virus poses a serious threat not just to Afghan children, but to the global population as well.
The recent rise in the number of polio cases being reported has given rise to calls for improved participation, and a more comprehensive approach to service delivery. As cases in the Southern Province are on the rise, there is a need for greater participation by the Taliban in the policy-making and implementation of immunization programs.
The current rise may be due to the halting of Polio vaccination campaigns across the country, owing to the coronavirus lockdown. However, campaigns have resumed since August 2020. During 2020, Afghanistan reported nearly double the number of cases of Wild PolioVirus 1. A shocking 56 cases were reported, in sharp contrast to the 29 cases reported in 2019. Nearly 60% of these cases were reported from Helmand, Kandahar, and Uruzgan.
According to the UNICEF Chief of Immunization, Mohammed Mohammedi, there are many barriers to successfully eradicating the Wild Poli Virus. He cited the undermining and neglect of the demands of local communities, widespread corruption, mismanagement, and interference in the execution of polio vaccine programs have become serious problems that Afghanistan must overcome, to successfully defeat the virus.