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ED: Hope for polio-free Afghanistan

Afghanistan is the polio endemic country along with Pakistan in the region. Though significant progress had been made to control the transmission, but this year two polio cases have been registered. Polio positive recorded in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. The primary challenge remains the inability to maintain high oral polio vaccine coverage in southern provinces, where insecurity impedes safe access to children for the vaccination. Now the two children who have been found polio positive would go through their toughest time and waiting for their paralyzing. No medicine across the globe would help them now. Two drops of polio vaccine is very much important for children under five. If they gone without vaccine, none can stop them from crippling, a disease hurts them till die. There is an urgent emphasis on improving immunization system starting from insecure districts. Polio vaccine would put a halt to the long-term poliovirus risks and potentially accelerating wild poliovirus eradication. On Sunday Afghanistan has kicked off three days polio campaign to cover all children nationwide, and also children who were missed during last polio campaign. Despite covering children, the polio ammonization campaign is the only way to stop the sped of wild polioviruses and also to reduce the risk of its outbreak. On January, the Ministry of Public Health produced hope among Afghan masses that the country is closer than ever to being certified as polio-free country. Afghanistan, being a war-hit country has been suffering badly since longtime from polio epidemic which can cause life-long paralysis. But since 2001, there was a tremendous progress in its elimination, in which today we have only two polio positive. For instance, few cases of polio were reported in 2016, and that was in only four districts out of 399, which revealed a great achievement in fight against this crippling threat. In 2015, 20 polio cases reported, in 2016 declined to 13, while in this year so far two cases registered. It shows that we are in right truck. To bring to zero-level, the Ministry of Public Health on Sunday kicked off National Immunization Days to eradicate polio from the country. The three day campaign would cover more than 8.8 million under five, and over 7.9 million under six months to five years ages will be given vitamin A tablets. However, the related officials have to stay alert as polio can be transferred and make sure that those Afghans returning home from Pakistan have to be vaccinated at moment of entering. After Nigeria, Pakistan is also struggling with polio, and it’s worth mentioning that polio cases are higher in Pakistan comparing to Afghanistan. Moreover, the presence of insurgents has also caused huge obstacles against polio drive. Last year there was a report that a number of local and foreign militants in north-eastern Badakhshan province had hampered polio process in Raghestan district. Creating obstacles ahead of staffers who their mission is to safe live from crippling is against humanity. Afghan Ulama sees no problem with it, rather the expressed their support for the polio eradication. It is not the duty of the government to eradicate polio, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to cooperate in eradicating of this devastating disease and paying attention to the improvement of our children’s health, as they are the future maker of this nation.

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