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New polio cases detected in KunarBy Khan Wali Salarzai Aug 9, 2012 - 16:23
ASADABAD (PAN): Two new polio cases have been detected in Asmar and Narai districts of eastern Kunar province, a public health official said on Thursday.
Last month, a polio case was registered in the militancy-plagued Shaltan valley of Shegal district, where an 18-month-old girl, Qaneta, was found suffering from the crippling disease.
Mohammad Ishaq, in charge of the polio vaccination branch at the Department of Public Health, identified the victims as 24-month-old Kamran and 15-month-old Jawad.
In an exclusive talk with Pajhwok Afghan News, Ishaq said that Kamran’s father had refused to have his children vaccinated against polio. And despite a campaign in Asmar, children have relapsed into the disease.
Confirming the new cases, Public Health Director Asadullah Fazli said not a single polio case was reported in the province from 1999 to 2011. But this is the fourth case during the current year.
He linked the new incidents to insecurity in the border province, as well as propaganda against the vaccination drive by some elements. He feared more polio cases if the current situation continued.
On the other hand, the insurgents said they had never impeded a vaccination campaign. “If the government can conduct it, the anti-polio drive should be left to the Taliban,” the group’s spokesman said.
But Zabihullah Mujahid accused the authorities of sending intelligence operatives in the guise of health volunteers to Taliban-dominated areas. He said the fighters would naturally obstruct such individuals.
Dr. Ishaq also blamed the militants and their supporters for their propaganda against the anti-polio vaccine and branding it as un-Islamic. As a result, the disease could not be eliminated from the province.