Afghanistan Hits Ominous New Polio Milestone

Capital sees first case since fall of Taliban

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 11, 2014 12:16 AM CST

(Newser) – Health workers in Afghanistan are on high alert after a girl was diagnosed with polio in Kabul—the first case the capital has seen since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. An urgent vaccination campaign has been launched in the city, especially in the desperately poor community of former nomads where the 3-year-old girl lives, the BBC reports.

The girl's father is a taxi driver who regularly travels to Pakistan, one of the only other countries in the world where polio is still endemic. Islamic militants there and in Nigeria have killed health workers carrying out vaccination campaigns, but in Afghanistan, the Taliban have changed their policy in recent years and allowed vaccinations to take place. Outside Kabul, polio cases in Afghanistan have dropped from 80 in 2011 to just 13 confirmed cases last year.

An Afghan child is vaccinated against polio during a polio eradication campaign in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan.
An Afghan child is vaccinated against polio during a polio eradication campaign in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
An Afghan health worker gives a polio vaccination to a child as other children stand on line during a polio  campaign in Kandahar province.
An Afghan health worker gives a polio vaccination to a child as other children stand on line during a polio campaign in Kandahar province.   (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)
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