Kabul: First Case of Polio Since Taliban's Fall in 2001

A young boy is being vaccinated against polio

A three-year-old Afghan girl has been diagnosed with polio in Kabul, Afghanistan - the capital's first case since the Taliban regime fell in 2001.

The girl, known only as Sakina, was diagnosed with the disease after she became paralysed.

Her uncle, Mohammed Azim, told the BBC that she complains: "I can't stand up. The other children are playing and I cannot."

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Her father has now taken her to Pakistan for treatment. The government ordered a vaccination campaign across Kabul after the young girl was diagnosed.

The case of polio was discovered in a very poor community of Kuchis, formerly nomadic herdsmen, now settled on a hillside in the east of the capital, the BBC reported.

In Kuchis, there is no running water or electricity, and some of the ex-nomads still live in tents, despite the cold of winter in Kabul.

Health workers have tried to visit every home in the community.

Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern Nigeria, but has been almost eliminated around the world.

The Afghan Taliban have only recently allowed vaccination against diseases like polio to be carried out in the country.

As well as killing health workers, the Pakistani Taliban have campaigned against vaccination, saying that it is a covert policy of sterilisation.

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Most cases of polio in Afghanistan occur on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

"This new case in Kabul tells us that the effort on polio eradication is not over yet, and we have to accelerate the effort to make sure that every child, no matter where they are, receive polio drops," Afghan Health Minister Soraya Dalil told the BBC.

According to Kanishka Turkistani, a health ministry spokesperson, there were 80 polio cases in Afghanistan in 2011, 37 in 2012 and just 14 in 2013. Sakina is the second case diagnosed in Afghanistan this year.

Syria eliminated polio in the 1990s but the disease has re-emerged because of the war because it was not eradicated in the largely rebel-held province of Deir al-Zor.

The Syrian government excluded Deir al-Zor province from a 2012 polio vaccination campaign. The government claimed most residents had fled the region during the conflict.

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