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Over 6m children to be vaccinated against polio this week

AT-Kabul: Ministry of Public Health on Sunday said it will roll out on Monday a nationwide campaign to vaccinate 6.4 million children under the age of five against polio virus in 27 high-risk provinces, mainly in Kandahar and Nangarhar.

This follows several new polio cases in the south, a wakeup call for health officials to initiative anti-polio campaign. Last week, a 14-month-old boy from Loyawala area was confirmed to have polio and it has been diagnosed that he will be permanently paralyzed. This is the 14th case in Afghanistan, and the 9th case in the southern region.

A statement said that efforts to eradicate polio in Afghanistan have been intensified and the health ministry and its partners are committed to ending this disease. “But what we need is the solid commitment and necessary cooperation of the community. If the community does not cooperate with us, we will not be able to reach every child with lifesaving polio vaccine. Whenever a child misses the vaccine, they can be impacted by polio.”

“I request all parents, community leaders, Mullah Imam of the mosques and tribal elders to cooperate with vaccinators to ensure that all children are vaccinated and protected against this permanent paralyzing disease,” said the Minister of Public Health Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz.

The vaccination campaign will take place from 24 – 28 September 2018.  Parents should ensure their children are home and available to be vaccinated.  All children under five should receive the polio vaccine, including newborns, sleeping, sick, and visiting children. Children who miss the vaccination should visit their local health centre as soon as possible, where the vaccine is available free of charge. The polio vaccine is safe, even for sick and newborn children. It is very important these children get the vaccine, because they have lower immunity which makes them more susceptible to the virus. Repeated vaccination is very important for children because it builds their immunity to the virus.

“Vaccinating your child against polio is the responsibility and obligation of every Muslim. The prominent Islamic Scholars and Reliable Islamic References from Afghanistan and globally have issued Fatwas on the importance of vaccination against polio.  If parents do not vaccinate their children as a result of negligence and undue propaganda, they are actually committing a great sin and injustice against their innocent children,” said Mawlawi Samiullah Raihan.

Polio is a crippling and a potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure and the polio vaccine is the only safe and effective way to protect children. All children should be vaccinated against polio during each campaign, until they reach the age of five. House-to-house vaccination is the only way to achieve polio eradication because it means every child has access to vaccination. This strategy has been implemented in all countries that have managed to eradicate the virus.

Currently, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only three remaining polio-endemic countries in the world.

MoPH urges parents and caregivers to ensure no child misses the vaccine, as this is the only protection from polio and permanent paralysis.

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