In the past decade, the numbers of people infected with polio declined from a high of 80 in 2011 to 13 in 2016. But last year there was a jump in new cases with 21 reported across Afghanistan. Polio immunisation is compulsory in Afghanistan, but distrust of vaccines is rife, and the programmes are difficult to enforce particularly in areas where the Taliban militants are in control.

Two-year-old Farid should have been vaccinated against polio, but his family like many in rural Afghanistan believed the conspiracy theories and refused to have him inoculated, KANDAHAR

He contracted the virus and now faces a crippling life sentence battling a potentially fatal disease with no cure.

“When the doctors told me he had polio, I felt remorse. I had believed people who told me the polio vaccine was a plot against Muslims,” Abdul Wali, the child’s uncle and head of the family, told AFP of his decision to rule against inoculation.