Polio in Afghanistan: The Current Situation amid COVID-19

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Published
2020
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Polio is a deadly viral disease that has been paralyzing many children in Afghanistan. Despite fundamental efforts, primarily vaccination, to reduce the number of cases in Afghanistan, there are still many children who are deprived of the vaccine every year. Afghanistan is one of the two remaining countries endemic for polio, and the country has undergone various challenges that have hampered the eradication of this disease. The underlying challenges include inaccessibility of unsecured areas, illiteracy, refusal, and, most recently, COVID-19. The country is in the midst of a battle against COVID-19, and polio has almost entirely been neglected. Sadly, polio cases are increasing in the country, particularly in polio-free provinces. After an initial lockdown, many businesses have been allowed to resume, but the mass polio vaccination campaign has not restarted. New cases of polio will surge if endemic regions remain unvaccinated or inaccessible. To curb the further spread of polio, Afghanistan needs to resume nationwide house-to-house vaccination as restrictions due to COVID-19 are loosened.