UPDATED 7:39 AM PT — Tuesday, February 26, 2019
The United Nations is blaming “unchecked borders” for polio making a comeback in Afghanistan. On Monday, the UN said nearly all of the polio cases in Afghanistan are linked to neighboring Pakistan, where people are freely crossing the border and spreading the disease.
Many people in the area do not trust the polio vaccine, because a fake vaccination program was used as a cover to search for Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. This led to rumors the injection is used for spying.
In response, the UN is continuing to have teams travel around Afghanistan to administer the vaccine in hopes of eradicating the disease.
“Polio is a dangerous virus in the world which targets children. We had 21 positive cases in Afghanistan last year. Most cases were linked to Pakistan. In 2019, we have plans to continue our anti-polio campaigns until we completely eliminate the polio virus.”
— Qudratullah Shekib, spokesperson – UNICEF polio program
The two countries, along with Nigeria, are the only places in the world where the disease is still prevalent.
The largest outbreak of the disease happened in 2014, when the Taliban repeatedly attacked vaccination teams. However, the group recently promised not to interfere in efforts to eradicate the disease.