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Afghanistan to launch massive polio vaccination campaign

AT News

KABUL – In a bid to safeguard the health of more than 8.8 million children, Afghanistan is set to initiate an extensive polio vaccination campaign starting this Monday, as announced by the Health Ministry on Sunday. The campaign is slated to last four days, with an extension to one week in 42 high-risk districts in the eastern part of the country. In these specific areas, children under the age of 10 will receive the vaccine, while the age cap elsewhere remains at five.

Recent warnings from the World Health Organization have highlighted the increased risk of virus transmission due to the repatriation of migrants from neighboring Pakistan. The Taliban’s de-facto government Health Minister, Qalandar Ibaad, expressed concern over the rising number of positive cases this year. He urged all Afghans, including parents, to actively participate in the collective effort against the disease.

Official figures reveal at least six cases of the wild type of poliovirus detected in Afghanistan this year, marking a significant increase from the two cases recorded nationwide last year. Vaccination campaigns in the region often face challenges, with conspiracy theories alleging that the polio vaccine causes infertility or that vaccinators are spies.

The Taliban, who previously banned door-to-door vaccinations in areas under their control, have now collaborated with the UN to resume the nationwide vaccination program since their return to power in August 2021. Polio, a potentially fatal infectious disease causing paralysis, underscores the critical importance of vaccination efforts to protect the nation’s children.

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