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Pakistan and Afghanistan: Poliovirus’ Only Strongholds

When I was a child, every year polio paralysed some 350 000 children in more than 100 nations. Today, this deadly, disfiguring virus has been all but defeated. In 2018, less than 30 cases were reported in just two nations: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our world strains towards the finish line of a monumental public health milestone: for only the second time in history, the eradication of a devastating human disease.

In this photo, a vaccination volunteer gives oral polio vaccine to a boy on a busy street of Afghanistan. This kind of intervention beautifully illustrates the aggressive tactics being undertaken by WHO and associates in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, working in partnership with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Let’s all remember: polio eradication requires high immunization coverage everywhere. Only in this way can transmission of this extremely transmissible virus be blocked. In this light, children are still missing out on vaccination for reasons of low infrastructure, distant locations, population insecurity and social resistance to vaccination. But each of us can lend our particular influence is eliminating polio for absolute good.

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