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Polio vaccination faces problems: Officials

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Ministry of Public Health calls lack of public awareness and security threats as main problems ahead of the national vaccination program and.

Ahmad Jan Naim, deputy public health minister said Monday that insecurity was a major challenge in front of healthcare services delivering in the country, hampering the procurement and observation of vaccination program in the remote districts.

However, he said that vaccination program for immunization of preventable diseases was going on in most parts of the country.

“Still lack of public awareness about vaccination programs is a great challenge, therefore we need to conduct public campaign to mobilize people about importance of immunization vaccination programs,” he said.

The government with the cooperation of international partners spends around $50 million for immunization of children against preventable disease through 12 kinds of vaccination programs, according to the deputy minister.

Still the under –five mortality rate toward preventable diseases in Afghanistan remains in highest as 97 percent 1,000 live births.

According to surveys, Afghanistan remains one of the two polio- endemic countries globally. Last year, 20 cases of polio were reported, while four cases have been registered so far this year in Nangarhar and Helmand provinces.

Sherin Varkey, the UNICEF health director, said that vaccination is a key health intervention in Afghanistan which has potential of averting 35 percent under five deaths.

“We need to overcome barriers to reach all children. People need to understand the value of vaccination and help mobilizing the parents to bring their children to the health centers and vaccinate against preventable killer diseases.

WHO representative Iman Shankiti, said that one-fifth of Afghan women and children never received immunization against preventable diseases.

She said that vaccines are not reaching around 60,000-200,000 children in Afghanistan.

“We need to close the immunization gap by accelerating our efforts to eradicate polio.”

“We are supporting to accelerate polio eradication inducing training of around 160,000 frontline health workers on a new program to strengthen campaign quality,” she said.

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