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Nationwide anti-polio campaign kicks off

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health along with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the national polio immunization campaign to vaccinate 9.5 million children under the age of five against the deadly polio disease.

The campaign will run throughout Afghanistan for the next four days, aiming to vaccinate about 9.5 million children.

Polio is a crippling disease that is incurable but preventable through regular vaccination. Polio disease can even kill infected children. Every child under the age of in Afghanistan should be vaccinated during each round. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only remaining polio-endemic countries in the world.

Health ministry said that during the campaign, children from 2-5 years will also receive de-worming tablets. These de-worming tablets prevent worm infections that cause malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development in children, and improve children’s overall health, education and development.

The statement said that so far this year four polio cases have been registered in Afghanistan. The places where the polio diseases diagnosed are infective for all children.

The public health asked the parents to know that every child under the age of five should be vaccinated during each round and that the polio vaccine is safe and the only effective prevention for polio. The vaccine is also safe for new-born, sleeping, and sick children. The vaccine has no side effects.

The campaign will occur throughout the country and will be carried out by about 67,500 trained health workers. These vaccinators and other frontline health workers are trusted members of the community.

The urgency for eradicating polio was recently highlighted by Afghanistan’s leading mullahs at a conference in Kabul in February. At this conference, about 70 mullahs from all provinces issued a joint declaration calling it a duty of all Afghan parents to vaccinate their children against polio.

The ministry of public health asserted that the eradication of polio in Afghanistan is possible within the next year if every child is reached during every vaccination campaign.

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