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Afghanistan Facing Challenges In Effort To Eradicate Polio By End Of 2012

“Afghanistan is intensifying efforts to eradicate polio by the end of next year, but security remains a major challenge especially in the southern provinces where the virus is localized, says” Arshad Quddus, head of the WHO polio program in Afghanistan, IRIN reports. Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, according to the WHO, IRIN notes, adding that Afghan “[g]overnment data show that 85 percent of the population now live in polio-free areas, but the virus is still circulating in 13 districts, including the seven where [13] recent cases have been detected.” In addition to security issues, “low literacy rates, poor hygiene practices and low awareness of the benefits of vaccination” are hindering campaigns, according to IRIN (9/15).