Afghanistan

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.

Polio this week in Afghanistan

  • One new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case was reported in the past week, bringing the total number of WPV1 cases for 2017 to six. It is the most recent case in the country, and had onset of paralysis on 10 July, from Zabul province, neighbouring Kandahar province and Pakistan.
  • Afghanistan continues to coordinate activities with neighbouring Pakistan, to address both cross-border transmission and focus on reaching mobile populations with oral polio vaccine (OPV). Transmission linking both countries runs primarily across three corridors, namely: eastern Afghanistan and Khyber-Peshawar, Pakistan; greater Kandahar/Hilmand and Quetta, Pakistan; and, Paktika/Patkya/Khost and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan.

Stopping Polio in Afghanistan

To ensure more children than ever before are reached with the polio vaccine, the campaigns in Afghanistan in 2017 must be the highest-quality in the programme’s 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, with an emphasis on high-quality immunization activities and surveillance to close remaining immunity gaps and quickly find the virus wherever it is hiding.

Afghanistan’s 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. Cross border teams, permanent transit teams and special nomadic teams are helping reach children on the move.

Much of the country remains polio-free, despite the deteriorating security situation throughout the country. However, these gains are fragile, and we must continue to focus on improvements in surveillance and campaign quality to find and respond to the virus wherever it emerges and stop it for good.

International Health Regulations

Afghanistan is classified by the International Health Regulations (IHR) as a state infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with potential risk of international spread. It is therefore subject to temporary recommendations as of August 2017.

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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

Travel advice

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.

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