News / Asia

    IS Hinders Polio Eradication Efforts in Afghanistan

    "Forty thousand of our children will be left without vaccination," said the director of the public health department in Nangarhar.
    "Forty thousand of our children will be left without vaccination," said the director of the public health department in Nangarhar.

    Polio vaccinations for tens of thousands of Afghan children are being delayed because health workers are unable to access remote regions controlled by Islamic militants including the Islamic State group.

    Gula Khan Ayub, a Ministry of Public Health official, said around 100,000 children could not get vaccinated in a recent four-day polio vaccination campaign carried out in 14 eastern and southern provinces of Afghanistan due to militants' threats.

    The militants are blocking polio vaccination campaigns, saying the Afghan government and the West are using health workers for intelligence-gathering purposes, VOA correspondent Zabihullah Ghazi reports.

    Militants also are reportedly giving mostly uneducated locals misinformation about the polio efforts, saying the vaccine causes long-term fertility problems for both boys and girls, and it contains pork products, which are unlawful in Islamic jurisprudence.

    According to the World Health Organization, polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, the only places in the world where the wild virus continues to circulate.

    While some Afghan children are being vaccinated, health workers are unable to access remote regions controlled by Islamic militants.
    While some Afghan children are being vaccinated, health workers are unable to access remote regions controlled by Islamic militants.

    The delay in vaccination efforts not only puts children at risk, but there are fears the disease will spread. Polio is spread through person-to-person contact, and one carrier can infect hundreds.

    The poliomyelitis virus hits the nervous system and may result in irreversible paralysis. Young children in poor rural areas with inadequate sanitation are most vulnerable.

    Polio cases up

    In Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, where fighting in recent months among Taliban, IS and government forces has been fierce, health workers are hamstrung. Local IS fighters have told health workers they have orders from their leaders not to allow polio vaccinations.

    "Forty thousand of our children will be left without vaccination," Najibullah Kamawal, the director of public health department in Nangarhar, told VOA. "Our campaign does not take place in areas affected where fighting goes on."

    At least 16 polio cases have been registered by the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan. Nangarhar has the highest number of reported polio cases in the country, with four in the Achin district where IS militants have a stronghold.

    "We have not had vaccinations in our areas in the past or now," said Zabihullah Shinwari, a local resident. "Relevant security departments should pay attention to this issue so that the security situation gets better and children get vaccinated."

    Tens of thousands of Afghan children in insecure areas may miss out on polio immunizations due to controls by Islamic militants.
    Tens of thousands of Afghan children in insecure areas may miss out on polio immunizations due to controls by Islamic militants.

    Nangarhar's provincial council has expressed concerns about the increasing number of polio cases. The council says they could cause a major health crisis if the security impediments are not properly addressed.

    "Fighting has continued in these areas and children have not been vaccinated during the last few years," said Zabiullah Zmaray, a member of Nangarhar provincial council. "If the security situation does not get better, vaccination teams cannot go there and polio cases will increase."

    Persuading the militants

    Provincial authorities are seeking to resolve the issue through mediation initiated by local leaders who are trying to talk to IS militants.

    "We are trying to resolve this issue by reaching an understanding [to convince the militants] through tribal elders," Nangarhar Governor Salim Khan Kunduzi said.

    IS militants, however, do not seem ready to accept any mediation, according to reports VOA received from the province.

    Many Afghan refugee children have returned from neighboring Pakistan, where more than 250 polio cases were reported last year.  

    The polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan has faced increasing attacks since a Pakistani doctor, Shakeel Afridi, allegedly helped the U.S. track al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by running a fake polio campaign in Abbottabad where the al-Qaida chief was shot dead.

    In areas dominated by the Taliban in Haska Mena, health officials were pleased in September that tribal elders and religious leaders were able to convince the Taliban to lift a nine-month ban on polio vaccination teams.

    "This is very beneficial to our children," Ahmad, a resident of Haska Mena, said at the time. "We are very pleased that this program [polio vaccination] is [re]starting and our children will be saved from this crippling disease."

    But that hope was short-lived. Now IS controls that area and the group is not allowing vaccinations anymore. 

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
    December 16, 2015 1:35 AM
    Stop Polio in Afghanistan

    by: Moses608 from: Kenya
    December 12, 2015 8:52 AM
    The world is where it was in the dark middle ages.Indeed this group is the real representative of darkness on earth.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora