Kabul, Oct 18 (EFE).- Afghanistan will resume its polio vaccination campaign in November with Taliban support, marking the first such drive to cover the entire country in more than three years, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday.
The campaign, which will begin on Nov.8, will be the first in more than three years to reach all children in Afghanistan, including some 3.3 million in remote areas where the immunization program had never arrived, the two international organizations said in a joint statement.
“This is an extremely important step in the right direction,” said Dapeng Luo, WHO Representative in Afghanistan. “Sustained access to all children is essential to end polio for good. This must remain a top priority.”
Luo also underlined that a second campaign will take place in December in collaboration with neighboring Pakistan, helping the children receive “the best protection” with “multiple doses of oral polio vaccine”.
Afghanistan has so far recorded only one wild case of poliovirus this year, presenting the country with “an extraordinary opportunity to eradicate polio,” according to the statement, making it essential to restart the vaccination campaign as soon as possible.
“To eliminate polio completely, every child in every household across Afghanistan must be vaccinated, and with our partners, this is what we are setting out to do,” said UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, Herve Ludovic De Lys.
One of the main areas of concern remains “the safety and security of health workers”, in addition to the inclusion of women in the immunization program, something to which the Taliban – who came to power on Aug.15 after taking over Kabul – have promised, according to the statement.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are currently the only two countries where the polio virus is still in transmission, with dozens of positive cases reported annually among children under the age of five. EFE