By Farhad Naibkhel
KABUL: Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in cooperation with partners has kicked off the first round of National Immunization Days (NIDS) for polio eradication that will take five days to target around 9.3 million children under five years of age across the country.
During the campaign, around 8.4 million children aged between six months to five years old will also be given vitamin A capsules that helps to build a child’s immunity and reduces the risk of diarrhea, respiratory infections and measles.
“Today MoPH started the anti-polio vaccination campaign, which will target around 9.3 million children in all provinces, except Daykundi, Bamyan and Ghor provinces due to the cold weather,” said Minister of Public Health Ferozudin Feroz.
Speaking at the ceremony, he called on Taliban group and all governmental, nongovernmental organizations, people and parents to cooperate with the vaccinators in a bid to cover all children across the country.
He said the ministry has faced some challengers in the aspect of house-to-house polio campaign by armed opponents last year. “In such circumstance our vaccination teams have missed around 900,000 children in 22 districts in Kandahar, Helmand, Urzgan and Zabul provinces.”
“After discussions, finally we reached to an agreement with the armed opponents to run the campaign site to site in the villages and this effort caused to cover 700,000 children out of around 900,000 missed children in the past four months,” he added.
He highlighted that besides running national campaign, MoPH will exert utmost efforts to cover the remained 200,000 children missed polio last year.
Last year 21 positive polio cases have been reported and while currently three cases reported—one in Urzgan and two in Kandahar provinces, he mentioned.
He said 60,000 children facing shortage of healthcare as well as missed polio campaign, so the MoPH has been struggling provide them health facilities.
Minister said that without house-to-house campaign it is impossible to eradicate this crippling virus in Afghanistan, thus it is required armed opponents to help the vaccination teams to reach each children behind the door.
Pointing over lack of health centers in Kandahar and Helmand, he said MoPH would establish 20 additional health center in Kandahar and 30 additional health centers in Helmand provinces in order to help the residents with further healthcare in the mentioned provinces.
Representative of World Health Organization (WHO) for Afghanistan Peeper Korn said “we are committed to work harder in order to stop circulation of polio virus.”
“We should not forget that progress have been made to eradicate polio in Afghanistan, which as result majority of this country become free of this virus and only the polio is circulating in south and east part of the country.”
As the polio virus limited to a small area of the country, with most in Kandahar and its neighboring provinces, so if boost up attempts to this area and be sure that each child received anti-polio drop, then we would have succeeded to eradicate this virus, he noted.
He emphasized that the success keys to eradicate polio virus are campaign house-to-house access in southern areas, accepting of vaccination by people, filling the blanks in the nature of campaign, and covering all movable populations, who are at high risk of the virus.
“We have to push for house-to-house campaign and need to regain all risky areas in order to have further success.”
The Holy religion of Islam has emphasized more over health, siad Mawlawi Raihan, adding polio is a disease that paralysis children, thus it is required of parents to help their children to receive the anti-polio drops.
He said “according to Islam the children’s parent is guilty if they did not pay attention during polio campaign.” He said the Afghan masses should not have seduced by political “Fatwa”—a declaration given against polio, he added.