Afghanistan Almost Beat Polio. Now the Future Is Uncertain

It’s a heart-stopping moment for health officials, who reported only a single case this year—and whose campaigns may end up paused.

For more than a week, global attention to Afghanistan has focused on the Taliban’s stunningly swift return to power, and the international airlift that is getting diplomats, Western workers, and refugees out. But a small cohort of disease experts is riveted by the political turnover for another reason: They worry it could undermine the long campaign to eradicate polio, which hinges on that country—and where, after years of disappointments, success now seems close.

Since 1988, a dogged and very expensive international campaign has chased polio from most of the world.

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