11 Feb 2014

Afghan girl found to have polio

9:21 pm on 11 February 2014

A vaccination campaign against polio is underway in the Afghan capital of Kabul after a three- old-girl there was diagnosed with the disease. It is the first recorded case in the capital since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

A child is immunised against the disease.

A child is immunised against the disease. Photo: AFP

The case 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 reports.

The three-year-old girl named Sakina was paralysed and the cause identified as polio. Her father is a taxi driver who often goes to the frontier region with Pakistan, and has now taken her there for treatment.

Polio had been on the retreat in Afghanistan where the Taliban have recently allowed vaccination, but not in neighbouring Pakistan where more extremist Taliban oppose it.

Afghan's health minister said this threatens to undermine the efforts made in the country.

In response, health workers have tried to visit every home in the community. There is no running water or electricity, and some of the ex-nomads still live in tents, despite the cold of winter in Kabul.

Once workers have put drops into the mouths of infants they find, they mark their hands with a blue line, and write the date on the wall.

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