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The Taliban's Minister proudly speaks about the progress made in anti-polio efforts in Afghanistan during a meeting about global health.
Science & Health

The Taliban’s Minister proudly speaks about the progress made in anti-polio efforts in Afghanistan during a meeting about global health.

A high-ranking member of the Taliban government in Afghanistan reported at a health conference hosted by Pakistan on Wednesday that there has been a rise in cases of malaria and dengue fever transmitted by mosquitoes in his country. However, there has been a significant decrease in cases of poliovirus, which is highly contagious.

In 2023, a total of 12 children worldwide were affected by wild poliovirus and all of them were from Afghanistan and Pakistan – with six cases reported in each country. Despite sharing a border of almost 2,600 kilometers, neither country has reported any cases of polio infection this year.

During the first global health security summit in Islamabad, Qalandar Ebad, the Taliban’s health minister, stated in his speech in English that Polio is a significant obstacle for both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Representatives from 70 nations around the globe, including those from the US and the UN, are participating in the conference taking place in the capital city of Pakistan.

Ebad stated that our efforts to eliminate the polio virus in the country are ongoing and we have made significant progress in this endeavor.

The polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan has seen improvements in quality and reach since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021, resulting in an end to years of conflict across the nation, according to the World Health Organization.

The minister of the Taliban acknowledged a small rise in HIV/AIDS cases in the impoverished nation, but did not provide further details.

Ebad attributed certain health crises in his country of over 40 million people to climate change. He emphasized the importance of aiding Afghanistan and other developing nations in enhancing their healthcare systems, allowing them to utilize local knowledge to combat contagious illnesses.

The Taliban minister claimed that while funding in Afghanistan is decreasing, the country continues to rely on international workers with higher salaries instead of investing in building national capacity. They argued that national workers are just as capable of performing the same tasks as international workers.

The Taliban has not been recognized by any foreign country due to their restrictions on Afghan women’s ability to receive education and hold jobs.

Following the Taliban’s takeover, Afghanistan suffered a significant loss of foreign aid as Western nations and international donors halted their financial assistance. This had a substantial impact on the country’s health sector, which relied heavily on this funding.

During his speech at the beginning of Wednesday’s summit, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar of Pakistan emphasized the importance of working together to combat worldwide infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and emergencies caused by climate change.

According to Kakar, no state, regardless of its strength, is capable of confronting such obstacles on its own.

During his speech to the audience, Donald Blome, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, supported the idea of a unified global effort towards health security.

According to Blome, collaborating with partners is the most efficient method for tackling health risks on both a local and global scale. He also emphasized the importance of stopping the spread of infectious diseases at their source as a cost-effective means of preserving lives. Blome further stated that prioritizing health is crucial for the success of any prosperous nation, and the United States is committed to being a reliable ally in this endeavor.