Afghanistan began a national polio vaccination campaign this past week, targeting 8.9 million children younger than 5.
The Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) says WHO’s latest confirmations show that polio cases in Afghanistan have fallen by 37 patients in 2012 to 15 cases this year. Experts estimate that Afghanistan’s polio rates decreased by 71 percent in 2013 alone.
Afghanistan’s vaccine campaign extends to all 34 of its provinces. Vice President Sarwar Danish announced the campaign at a recent ceremony.
This is the fourth campaign just this year. Unfortunately, past conflicts within the country have obstructed the campaign to vaccinate children. The vice president asked for support from the general public.
Alternatively, rates of polio cases in Pakistan are worse than last year. The country’s polio increased by 170 cases from January to August. Last year there were 33 reported cases. The MMWR says 87 percent of the cases occurred in areas where health workers have been attacked, thus slowing polio eradication.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds Pakistan that its situation undermines other global efforts for polio eradication.
“Every year that eradication is delayed could cost the world up to 1 billion dollars,” the CDC said.
Experts set 2018 as the goal for polio eradication.