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Polio drive halts in Nangarhar after three female vaccinators shot dead

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KABUL: The ministry of public health delayed the vaccination drive in the eastern Nangarhar province after three female medical employees were shot dead in Jalalabad, provincial capital city.

On Tuesday, a number of unidentified gunmen shot three female vaccinators dead in two separate attacks in PD 4 and PD 7 of Jalalabad.

The attacks faced serious reactions by the human rights watchdogs, Afghan government and as well as Afghans on social media.

The Amnesty International called for an immediate investigation into the incident. “This despicable and cowardly act has taken the lives of three women who were dedicating themselves to protecting the health of Afghan children,” the Amnesty International said in a statement.

No militant group, including the Taliban asserted responsibility for the attacks.

Miraj Jan Rassikh, an official at the ministry of health said on Wednesday that a joint team of representatives from the health ministry and provincial officials would investigate whether it’s safe for carrying the vaccination drive.

He said that the vaccination campaign may be launched in some parts of the province. According to him, the vaccination teams are unable to go to Behsood, Surkh Rod, Pachir Agam and Shinwari districts to immunize the children.

The lower house of the parliament (Wolesi Jirga) also decided to send a delegation to Nangarhar to probe the killing of the three female health workers.

The polio vaccination campaign was launched this week. According to health officials, the campaign would cover 9.5 million children countrywide.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world, where children face the dangerous threats of polio disease.

Earlier, UNICEF said that 56 type-1 polio and 303 new-type polio cases were recorded in 2020 in Afghanistan.

More than 1.2 million children eligible for polio vaccine would be deprived of vaccination campaigns in the eastern parts of Afghanistan due to war and insecurity, health officials said, adding that last year also three million children countrywide were devoid of polio vaccine.

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