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 Bermal district, Paktika province, with onset of paralysis on 16 December 2016.  This brings the total number of WPV1 cases for 2016 to 13.  More than half of the country’s cases in 2016 are from Bermal district.
  • One new environmental WPV1 positive sample was reported in the past week from Jalalabad, Nangarhar, collected on 26 December 2016.
  • Paktika province is close to the border with Pakistan, and constitutes a common WPV transmission corridor posing a major risk to both national programmes.  This corridor of transmission ranges from southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)/Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan to south-eastern Afghanistan in Paktika, Paktya and Khost provinces.
  • Nangarhar is part of the common cross-border WPV transmission corridor running from greater Peshawar/Khyber in Pakistan through to Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman in Afghanistan.
  • Efforts are ongoing to urgently strengthen operations both for immunization and surveillance activities, in particular in the provinces affected by cross-border WPV transmission corridors.

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 currently exporting wild poliovirus or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus and hence it is subject to temporary recommendations as of November 2016.

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