The World Health Organization on Tuesday began using a new and more effective polio vaccine to eradicate the crippling virus in parts of Afghanistan.
Although most of Afghanistan is belived to be polio free, the disease has gone unchecked in 13 districts where security is a major concern.
"In Kandahar and Helmand provinces, the proportion of children who have not
received the polio vaccine is well above 20 percent overall and more than 60
percent in some regions," said Rod Curtis with the WHO in Geneva.
"We are working with the government and with the Taliban Shura to ensure we have safe access to these areas."
"This is a major new tool in efforts to eradicate Types 1 and 3 polio," said
Curtis. No new cases of Type 2 poliomyelitis have been reported anywhere in the world since 1999.
Polio has been eliminated from most of the world, but it is more concentrated than ever -- 98 percent of all global cases are found in India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Those countries will be given the new vaccine in the coming months.
Polio is a highly infectious virus that invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. It can strike at any age, but affects mainly children under three.
More information on the WHO's polio eradication project can be found at: