New cases of polio have fallen by 99 percent globally in the past two decades, but Afghanistan remains one of the world’s four polio-endemic countries. To protect its young citizens against the deadly disease, Afghanistan holds Polio National Immunization Days (NIDs) four times per year.
On October 3, Afghanistan inaugurated a three-day polio NIDs campaign at the Khair Khana Hospital in Kabul. Around the country, more than 55,000 vaccinators dispensed both polio drops and albendazol (deworming) tablets, reaching 7.8 million children under the age of six. This was the first time that albendazol was included and 4.7 million children between the ages of two and five years received the tablets.
The disease remains a stubborn problem, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country where a poor security environment impedes polio vaccinators and there is cross-border importation of the virus with Pakistan. In between NIDs, smaller campaigns are conducted in areas where new cases have been found. USAID support, along with that of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and other international donors, is credited with helping the Afghan Ministry of Public Health keep the number of new polio cases at low levels for the past five years.