Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health in a press release on Thursday announced that a new WPV1 case in the Behsud district of Nangarhar province was reported, bringing the total number of polio cases to four in the county in 2023.
The case is a 48-month-old male child who had the onset of paralysis on 16 May 2023. As per the findings of the public health ministry, Nangarhar and the entire eastern parts of the country are facing a significant polio threat due to previous instances of environmental polio cases and the confirmed presence of the virus in contaminated water and polluted surroundings.
According to the provincial health officials, healthcare facilities and hygiene measures have been inadequate in the Behsud district of Nangarhar province where the polio case was recorded.
It is reported that poliovirus can survive for a significant period of time in unsanitary environments. When children are infected with the virus, they cannot be treated, often resulting in permanent paralysis or death.
In 2022 alone, Afghanistan conducted 12 polio vaccination campaigns, making it the highest number of campaigns in the world, according to Dr. Nek Wali Momin, the director of National EOC.
To protect against poliovirus, vaccination alone is not enough Dr. Momin said. The necessary steps should be taken to strengthen routine practices, improve hygiene facilities including safe drinking water and people’s access to basic health services in remote parts of the country.
Furthermore, acute hunger and poverty have led to worsening malnutrition conditions among vulnerable children throughout Afghanistan, paving the way for the spread of poliovirus.