GENEVA: Pakistan and Afghanistan must intensify efforts to halt spread of the crippling poliovirus, including better screening of travellers heading abroad, the World Health Organisation said on Monday.

The WHO emergency committee of experts warned in a statement that vaccinations of international air travellers in Afghanistan are not being tracked “and no exit screening and restriction of unvaccinated travellers has been implemented at international airports”.

“The increasing risk of international spread associated with the ongoing suspension of mass vaccination campaigns in Kandahar province was another major source of concern,” the UN agency said, referring to Taliban factions that have halted vaccination campaigns.

Pakistan and Afghanistan, the only two countries where the poliovirus remains ende­mic, have reported 29 and seven cases, respectively, so far this year, against 108 and eight at this time in 2014, WHO spokeswoman Sona Bari said.—Reuters

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2015

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