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Afghanistan begins nationwide polio vaccination campaign



Afghanistan on Monday began a new polio vaccination campaign aimed at protecting around 10.72 million children under the age of 5, the Health Ministry announced.

The ministry said in a statement that the four-day campaign will cover 31 of the country’s 34 provinces.

while vaccinations in Ghor, Daikundi and Bamyan provinces will be implemented later due to recent rains and cold weather,

“Together with our partners, we are committed to eradicating polio from Afghanistan,” said Dr Qalandar Ibaad, the Taliban government minister of public health.

“We will work tirelessly and continue polio vaccination campaigns and complementary health services until we reach the goal of fully eradicating polio.”

The ministry urged religious scholars and local elders to cooperate with vaccine providers to fight against polio, a debilitating disease that can lead to paralysis and death.

In December, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the repatriation of migrants from neighbouring Pakistan has increased the risk of spreading the virus.

Since then, Afghanistan has conducted at least three rounds of nationwide vaccinations.

Vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan often face challenges due to conspiracy theories that polio vaccines cause infertility or that vaccinators are spies.

Before seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban had banned door-to-door vaccinations in areas they controlled.

However, the United Nations successfully negotiated with them to resume the vaccination programme across the country after their return to power.

Halima Sheji

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