Status: has never stopped indigenous wild poliovirus (WPV) circulation

Afghanistan is one of only three countries in the world with ongoing wild poliovirus transmission, alongside Nigeria and Pakistan. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is focusing on reaching every last child in Afghanistan with vaccines, strengthening surveillance and maintaining political commitment, financial resources and technical support at all levels.

WHO’s International Travel and Health recommends that all travellers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Residents (and visitors for more than 4 weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of OPV or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel.

Polio this week in Afghanistan

  • One new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case was reported in the past week from Nahr-e-Saraj district, Helmand province, with onset of paralysis on 21 January. The total number of WPV1 cases for 2016 remains 13, and two for 2017.
  • One new environmental WPV1 positive sample was reported in the past week from Jalalabad, Nangarhar, collected on 24 January
  • Most areas of Afghanistan are without polio cases, but wild poliovirus continues to circulate in localized geographical areas in the Eastern and South Eastern Regions of the country. Two geographical areas are of particular importance:  Bermel district in Paktika province, and Sheegal district in Kunar, which have reported 11 of the 13 polio cases in 2016.
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to be treated as a single epidemiological block.

Stopping Polio in Afghanistan

To ensure more children than ever before are reached with the polio vaccine, the campaigns in Afghanistan in 2016 must be the highest-quality in the programmes history. The focus is on reaching every child with vaccines, particularly those who have been persistently missed. Afghanistan and Pakistan must work together to stop the virus for good.

Afghanistan’s programme is evolving to better reach children with vaccines in the midst of a shifting security landscape. Cross border teams, permanent transit teams and special nomadic teams are helping reach children on the move. The Emergency Operations Centres are working under a National Emergency Action Plan to ensure that chronically missed children are consistently reached now and in the future.

Much of the country remains polio-free, despite the deteriorating security situation throughout the country, particularly in the east and north east. These gains, however are fragile.

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Key at-risk: no longer poliovirus-infected, but at high risk of outbreaks
Outbreak: has stopped indigenous WPV circulation but affected by outbreak of imported WPV or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus
Endemic: has never stopped indigenous wild poliovirus (WPV) circulation

IHR Classification

Afghanistan is classified by the International Health Regulations (IHR) as a state infected with wild poliovirus or cVDPVs but not currently exporting; hence it is subject to temporary recommendations as of February 2017.

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