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Friday, December 9, 2022

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund undertake an Afghan polio immunisation campaign with Taliban support

An anti-polio vaccination campaign launched on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), marking the first countrywide effort to combat the illness in three years.

As reported by Reuters, Afghanistan’s health ministry’s National Emergency Operations Coordinator for the polio programme said the campaign had begun in different regions of the country on Monday, but that there were significant obstacles to overcome due to a dearth of skilled personnel.

As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), Taliban support for the programme, which will enable teams to reach children in hitherto unreachable sections of the nation, has been secured. The initiative is targeted at reaching nearly 3 million children.

Earlier this month, Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, issued a statement saying, “The Taliban leadership’s desire for the polio campaign to proceed with urgency demonstrates a shared commitment to maintain the health system and restart essential immunizations to avert further outbreaks of preventable diseases.”

Momim, on the other hand, said that further training was required for organisations in remote regions, and that the initiative will first begin in places such as Kabul.

Afghanistan and its neighbour Pakistan are the only two countries on the earth to still have an endemic polio outbreak, an incurable and highly contagious disease spread via sewage that may cause devastating paralysis in young children.

Polio has been almost eradicated across the world as a result of a decades-long immunisation campaign. Mass vaccination has been impeded in Afghanistan and certain parts of Pakistan, however, due to instability, impassable terrain, mass relocation, and a general fear of foreign meddling.

A number of polio workers have been assassinated by gunmen in eastern Afghanistan this year, however it has not yet been determined who was responsible for the killings.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data obtained before the fall of the Western-backed government in August, there was just one documented incidence of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in Afghanistan in 2021, compared to 56 cases in the previous year.

It will continue to be a hazard to human health in all nations until it is totally eradicated, according to medical experts. It is a particular concern in countries with weak health systems, which are particularly sensitive to the risk of importing diseases.

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