In an official statement, the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan has confirmed a new case of WPV1 (Wild Poliovirus Type 1) in the Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, reported on Wednesday. This case raises the country’s polio cases to six in 2023.
According to the official statement, the confirmed case involves a 12-year-old male child who experienced the onset of paralysis on September 4, 2023.
Dr. Nek Wali Momin, the Director of the National EOC, has voiced his concern regarding the recent polio case. He emphasized that Afghanistan conducted an exceptional 12 polio vaccination campaigns in 2022, surpassing the global average.
In 2023, the country has already carried out three national, two sub-national, and four case response campaigns, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to eradicating polio.
“Vaccination alone is not enough; efforts should be made to strengthen routine immunization. It is crucial to provide facilities for hygiene as many families have limited access to clean water; malnutrition is worsening day by day; measures must be taken to prevent malnutrition, as it is caused by various factors, including poverty and insufficient access to basic health services in remote areas,” He added.
In Khogyani district, where the new polio case emerged, inadequate public health and hygiene measures have been observed.
Insufficient sanitation creates an environment where the poliovirus can persist. Children who play in unsanitary conditions risk contracting the virus, resulting in permanent paralysis or even death.
All five previously reported polio cases also originated from Nangarhar province, underscoring the need for heightened vigilance in the country’s eastern region.
The Polio Eradication Program is actively strengthening surveillance efforts in this region and is committed to achieving comprehensive polio vaccine coverage for every child. The statement said the ultimate goal is eradicating polio from Afghanistan.
Given the current circumstances, there is consideration for implementing targeted campaigns in the affected areas. The ministry said that national and sub-national campaigns are planned to contain the virus’s spread and prevent further transmission swiftly.