Polio is currently pandemic in three countries- among them, the one posing the greatest world threat is Afghanistan. Even with the political and military unrest, vaccination teams have been allowed to fulfill their work by the government as well as the Taliban. Th Global Polio Eradication Initiative has stated a near eradication, but this year the cases in Afghanistan tripled- from 25 cases in 2010 to 76 in 2011. This three-fold rise is of international concern since the new cases appeared in regions that were previously believed to be polio-free.
The Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health has indicated that the new cases are of a polio strain seen in Pakistan. This strain has been imported by refugees from endemic areas in Pakistan as well as travelers and tourists. Cases in Pakistan also increased from 80 to 192 in 2011. But not all regions with endemic polio have had similar trends- India, on the other hand, saw a year with no new polio cases.
The World Health Organization and Unicef have devoted $32 million dollars to aid in the effort to eradicate polio. This week, WHO is declaring the three-fold rise in Afghanistan a global public health emergency.