Monday is World Polio Day, and even though polio has been declared eradicated worldwide, two positive cases of the virus have been recorded in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year.
According to Sharaf Zaman, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), these positive cases were recently documented in Paktika and Kunar provinces.
"This year, the Ministry of Public Health has conducted about eight campaigns at high-risk provinces, six of which were national campaigns and two sub-campaigns,” said Sharafat Zaman, a spokesman for the MoPH.
He stated that the ministry is working to guarantee that no positive cases of polio are found in Afghanistan in the future, and that the registration of just two positive cases this year is the outcome of these efforts.
Polio has been eradicated worldwide, but Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries where positive polio cases are still documented.
At the same time, the World Health Organization in Afghanistan claimed in a tweet that "Afghanistan is closer to eliminating polio than ever before."
In the meantime, the World Health Organization wrote in a statement: “To ensure a polio-free future for everyone, efforts must continue to maintain high immunization coverage, implement high-quality surveillance to detect any presence of the virus, and prepare to respond in the event of an outbreak.”
On the occasion of World Polio Day, the European Commission in a joint statement by Commissioners Stella Kyriakides, Jutta Urpilainen and Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Dr Andrea Ammon said polio remains an international health threat, yet it can be tackled.
“Globally, we must continue our work to eradicate polio once and for all, by closing the gaps where it is still endemic, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Commission is supporting global eradication efforts by strengthening immunisation systems and supporting vaccination. In the last years, the EU has mobilised €110 million to fight polio in most affected countries, including Afghanistan, and in cooperation with international partners such as UNICEF, WHO and Gavi,” the joint statement said.
According to the World Health Organization, World Polio Day celebrates global efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis (polio) and to secure a polio-free future for everybody, and efforts must continue to maintain high vaccine coverage, deploy high-quality surveillance to identify the virus's existence, and plan to respond if an outbreak occurs.