Afghanistan begins last phase of polio vaccination

Kabul, Dec 19 (EFE).- The Taliban began the last phase of its polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan on Monday, seeking to immunize nearly seven million children, concluding a year in which only two cases of the virus were recorded across the country.

“The ministry of public health of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – as the Taliban call themselves – in cooperation with relevant international agencies today launched the last round of polio vaccination campaign this year,” the ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zaman Amar told EFE.

He added that this campaign will be held in 242 districts across 26 provinces of Afghanistan, targeting nearly seven million children under five.

During the year, Afghanistan reported only two cases of poliomyelitis in the northeastern provinces of Pkatika and Kunar, a significant reduction from the 56 cases in 2020 and four cases in 2021, the ministry said in a statement Monday.

Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan are the only countries in the world where polio is endemic.

In this regard, the authorities called on the families of the minors to collaborate with the vaccination teams in help erradicate the disease from the country.

Polio vaccination teams have often been subject to attacks, including one in February this year in which eight workers were killed in northern Afghanistan, leading to the United Nations office in the country to stop vaccination in two provinces with immediate effect.

Before the Taliban took control of Kabul in August last year, successive polio campaigns had been limited by the conflict in the Asian country and the fundamentalists’ opposition to door-to-door vaccination in the areas under their control.

Campaigns against the disease have gained momentum after the fundamentalists came to power, and according to the World Health Organization in August, a polio-free Afghanistan is within reach. EFE


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