2-day meeting on polio control begins tomorrow
KABUL (PAN): A two-day meeting on controlling the polio incidence in areas along the restive Afghanistan-Pakistan border would be held in Kabul, a public health official said on Monday.
Set for Tuesday and Wednesday, the meeting will be attended by officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan and UNICEF. Participants will discuss ways and means of dealing with the challenge posed by polio.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the countries that are still haunted by the crippling virus. In fact, polio cases have risen in the neighbouring countries due to the ongoing militant-linked violence.
From Jan 1 to Dec. 31, 2011, there were 883 cases of serotype 1 poliomyelitis (710 in Pakistan and 173 in Afghanistan) and 272 cases of poliomyelitis serotype 3 (216 in Pakistan and 56 in Afghanistan).
Since March 21, 13 cases of polio have been detected in the country, mostly in the insurgency-plagued southern provinces that share borders with Pakistan, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health.
Hafizullah Fayyaz told reporters in Kabul that the ministry could not carry out vaccination campaigns in the insecure areas. However, he explained the anti-polio drive had been implemented in 90 percent of the country.
In 2011, 80 polio cases were reported in Afghanistan -- mostly in the volatile south. With the support of the World Health Organisation, Afghan authorities plan to eradicate the disease by the end of 2013.
Newly-introduced vaccines have the potential to eliminate polio if sufficient numbers of children could be reached, according to The Lancet medical journal.
A disease of the nervous system, poliomyelitis was endemic in more than 125 countries in 1988. Today, only Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria remain on the list.