The International Health Regulations’ Emergency Committee has expressed concern over the increasing number of polio cases in Afghanistan which also pose a threat to Pakistan because of constant travel between the two countries.

The Polio Emergency Committee issued a statement on Friday stating that there is still a risk of poliovirus spreading worldwide considering the “cross-border spread into Pakistan” from the eastern Afghan border.

According to the committee, five new wild poliovirus cases were reported in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. There were 32 positive environmental samples this year so far in the eastern region except for one site in Kandahar in the southern region and one from Balkh in the north.

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During the committee meeting summoned by the director general of World Health Organisation on August 16, it was stated that one new case of wild poliovirus was reported in Pakistan since May, total cases being two in 2023. Both the cases were reported from Bannu district.

According to the committee statement, there have been 15 environmental surveillance positive samples in 2023. And while action plan in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has resulted in 160,000 more children being vaccinated, it remain a challenge nonetheless due to “political instability, insecurity in some areas, with front line workers requiring police patrols to accompany them, and vaccination boycotts where communities make demands for other services in exchange for allowing polio vaccination”.