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Polio Is Eradicated in Afghanistan, Taliban Official Proclaims to WHO 

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Abdul Salam Hanafi, the Taliban’s deputy prime minister says that Polio is eradicated from Afghanistan.

In a video conference with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Hanafi claimed that polio has been eradicated from all parts of Afghanistan through continuous vaccination efforts.

He hailed the eradication of polio as one of the achievements of the Taliban government.

Afghanistan, along with its neighbor Pakistan, has been the only two countries for years with active cases of polio. Last year, six positive cases of Polio were recorded in Afghanistan, all of which were in Nangarhar province. However, no positive cases of polio have been reported so far this year.

According to the information shared by the Taliban, the Director-General of WHO stated that the organization is keen to continue its health activities in Afghanistan, which requires cooperation from the Taliban.

The Taliban said that WHO has announced its willingness for cooperation in various sectors, including strengthening laboratories for polio diagnosis and providing training grounds for Afghan doctors.

Poor health infrastructure, restrictive cultural norms in border areas between the two countries, and prolonged conflict have for decades hampered efforts to eradicate polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Taliban’s insurgency against the former government and its international supporters was one of the main hurdles against vaccination campaigns. Vaccinators had been killed and abducted by the group and health facilities had been targeted.

It is not clear whether the Taliban’s proclamation of eradicating polio from the country without any credible evidence will have implications on the group’s willingness to facilitate vaccination campaigns undertaken by international organizations such as WHO.