Threefold Increase In Polio Cases In Afghanistan Concerns Experts

The New York Times examines how after years of decline, the number of recorded polio cases in Afghanistan tripled in 2011 to 76, following only 25 cases in 2010, raising concerns among international health experts that polio is seeing a resurgence, “particularly since some of the cases erupted far outside the disease’s traditional areas in Afghanistan.”

The newspaper reports on reaction to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s statement effectively blaming the Taliban for the increase in cases, writing, “Health care officials said they had experienced no change in the militants’ tolerance for the vaccination efforts, and the Taliban reacted indignantly.” Bruce Aylward, who heads the WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative, said Afghanistan’s eradication efforts remain effective, but the agency “is expected this week to declare increases in polio cases a ‘global public health emergency,'” the New York Times notes (Nordland et al., 1/17).