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Anti-polio drive begins; Unrest prevents vaccination of one million children

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The Ministry of Public Health on Monday announced the launch of a campaign to administer polio vaccines to children countrywide, amid fears anti-polio workers may not reach out to over one million children due to widespread unrest.

“In each polio vaccination drive, MoPH targets about 6.5 million children under age of five years; but,due to spiraling conflict,one million children will be deprived of polio vaccinations campaign in different provinces,” said Director of Polio Eradication Program Maiwand Ahmadzai.

He said that unrest will not only impede house-to-house vaccination, but also prevents from reaching out to around 1.3 million children. However, “We have access today to Kunduz, where 300,000 children will receive anti-polio drops in the ongoing campaign”.

He elaborated that the one million children, who will miss polio vaccines are in different districts of Helmand, Uruzgan, Kandahar, Nangarhar and Kunar provinces.

Confirming a new case of polio detected in Nadali district of Helmand, he said that considering this the polio case is nine in this year.Record of the new case polio can be a risk alarm to the children in the area.

The nine positive polio cases are included five cases in Kandahar, two case in Kunar, one in Nangarhar and one in Helmand province, he added.

According to MoPH the polio campaign, which start today will continue till Friday and through 225 districts in 27 provinces will be covered throughout the country.

MoPH said that 53,000 trained employees voluntarily will go door to door in their locality in order to not miss children needed vaccination.

The ministry said that support of media channels, influential figures, religious scholars, health workers, teachers and community will enable the ministry to eradicate polio from the country.

Prominent religious scholars have supported polio vaccination drive, terming it prerequisite in immunizing children against polio virus. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only third countries still grappling with polio virus.

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