A new case of polio has been registered in Nimroz province, officials at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) confirmed on Sunday.
The patient is a three-year-old toddler from Zarang district, in the south-western province and has apparently lost the use of one leg. The case was confirmed last week and is now the ninth confirmed case of polio in Afghanistan this year, said officials.
The National Polio Communication Officer at the MOPH Dr. Maiwand Ahmadzai said the victim was, according to his family, vaccinated recently. However, his family said relatives from Bakwa district in western Farah province visited them a while back – the province that last month reported the previous polio case.
Ahmadzai told TOLOnews.com that this comes after serious efforts are being conducted by health officials to vaccinate all children in the province.
He said this is the first recorded case in Nimroz in 15 years, but the second case to be detected in the southern region this year.
However, MoPH officials have stepped in to ensure children are safe and after launching an investigation into the matter, health officials on Sunday went into the area to start vaccinating children that have slipped through the cracks.
“We have launched another vaccination campaign today in the whole of Zarang and it will continue for three days,” he said.
“In the past 15 years we haven’t had any cases from the north-west but in less than two months we have had two – one in Nimroz and one in Farah.”
He said that “previously we had polio cases from southern provinces especially from Kandahar but this has declined. When we find any polio cases anywhere, we immediately launch vaccination campaigns,” he said.
He went on to say that a vaccination campaign is also underway in Achin district in eastern Nangarhar province after a polio case was recorded there recently. This will also continue for three days.
“The seventh case has been registered in Achin district of Nangarhar. We have also launched a vaccination campaign there.”
Despite an injection of millions of dollars into the health sector and concerted effort on the part of health officials, Afghanistan still lags behind in stamping out the virus – which has been eradicated across the globe except in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Recently the MoPH reported that no polio cases have been reported in Africa for a year. Nigeria, which was the only other country, next to Afghanistan and Pakistan, to record cases, was recently dropped from the list of polio-endemic countries after being polio free for a year.
This however, just leaves Afghanistan and Pakistan as polio-vulnerable countries in the world.
Reaching the milestone, for Nigeria, is a testament to the persistence, deep pockets and adaptability of the eradication initiative, which was led by the W.H.O., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Fund for Children, Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.
But the UN paints a bleak picture as at least 37 new cases have been recorded this year, 28 in Pakistan and now nine in Afghanistan.
The Afghan health officials, however, blame the issue on a lack of security and the negligence of families in vaccinating their children against the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) meanwhile recently called on Afghanistan and Pakistan to accelerate their anti-polio drive.
Recent polio vaccination drives have however been hampered by security issues in both countries.
The global campaign to eradicate the disease began in 1988 when an estimated 350,000 polio cases were reported in 125 countries.