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Status: endemic

Most of Afghanistan is polio-free. The country has not yet interrupted transmission of wild poliovirus. While most cases in 2014 were due to poliovirus imported from neighbouring Pakistan, there is also ongoing transmission of virus within Afghanistan.


Government of Afghanistan's National Emergency Action Plan 2015-2016


WHO’s International Travel and Health recommends that all travellers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Residents (and visitors for more than 4 weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of OPV or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel.

Polio this week in Afghanistan

  • No new cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) were reported in the past week.  The total number of WPV1 cases for 2016 remains nine.  The most recent case had onset of paralysis on 11 August in Paktika province, close to the border with Pakistan.
  • No WPV1 environmental positive samples have been reported in 2016. The most recent samples were collected on 27 December 2015 - one in Jalalabad district of Nangarhar province and the second in the city of Kabul.
  • The next immunization campaigns are scheduled to start on 3 October and 7 November.

Strategy to eradicate polio in Afghanistan


The Southern Region of Afghanistan and Farah province in the Western Region remain polio-endemic: in 2011, 85% of polio cases occurred in these areas. The other cases were reported in nine previously polio-free provinces, the result of importations from this endemic zone and from neighbouring Pakistan.

In the endemic zone, the immunization status of children was worse in 2011 than in 2008, uncovering a steady decline in the quality of Supplementary Immunization Activities. The 28 worst-performing districts have been identified in Hilmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces in Southern Region and Farah province in Western Region.

In addition to problems accessing children in insecure areas, serious flaws in the management and accountability of the polio eradication programme persisted in 2011. Poor access and management were compounded by a failure to sufficiently communicate to parents and communities the importance of polio eradication.

Communication in Action: overview of community engagement

Strategic approach in Asia

In Asia, persistent poliovirus transmission is highly localized in a few districts. The approach in Asia therefore focuses on district- and sub-district-specific plans to achieve exceptionally high coverage with very frequent supplementary immunization activities to boost population immunity to >95% – the threshold required to stop transmission in Asia.

Engaging local political and administrative leaders to ensure the quality of supplementary immunization activities is also important.

Strategic approach in Afghanistan

Interrupting the remaining poliovirus transmission in Afghanistan has been declared an emergency by the World Health Assembly. In response, the National Polio Emergency Action Plan has been developed which recommends the following emergency approach.

  1. Resources focus on 28 worst-performing districts of endemic zone
  2. Engagement with local-level access negotiators and humanitarian organizations active in conflict areas
  3. New ‘permanent polio teams’: vaccination teams in place in worst-performing, security-compromised districts, able to circulate on a rolling basis to deliver additional OPV doses in between large-scale SIAs
  4. Scaling up Short Interval Additional Dose approach to more rapidly boost population immunity among populations living in hard-to-reach areas
  5. Strengthened capacity in worst-performing districts, through additional technical support and full-time district polio managers
  6. Strengthened accountability, through assessment and monitoring through provincial polio teams
  7. Refined post-SIA monitoring to obtain clearer picture of programmatic performance and enable corrective measures
  8. Sensitised micro-planning, and increased recruitment of local personnel for vaccination teams and supervision
  9. Assessment of community perceptions and targeted and scaled-up social mobilization efforts

Eradication targets

  • Coverage of >90% in high risk districts (HRDs) in at least 4 of the SIAs in a year

  • <5% inaccessible children in each high risk district
  • Awareness levels increased from 50% to 90% at the national level
  • Zero Dose AFP cases reduced by 50%4 
  • Among all the unvaccinated children, <10% missed due to “no team visit”
  • Reduction in total missed children and refusals by at least 50% in the country with special focus on 28 High Risk Districts.