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Polio eradication campaign underway in southeast Afghanistan

Health
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polio-vaccination2A polio immunization campaign, supported by the United Nations, is now underway to immunize nearly one million children against the crippling disease in the southeastern region of Afghanistan.

Launched last week by the Ministry of Public Health, with technical and financial assistance from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), the campaign is scheduled to cover Paktya, Paktika, Khost and some districts of Ghazni province.

During the campaign, more than 5,000 health workers will visit families, door to door, to administer anti-polio drops and Vitamin A doses to children under age five.

The current anti-polio drive in Afghanistan is part of an international effort to eradicate the disease altogether from the globe. Currently, polio remains endemic only in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

While most of Afghanistan is polio-free, the southeastern region still has been vulnerable. Last year, four cases of polio were detected in the region, including two in Paktika, one in Khost and another in Ghazni. However, this year, no polio cases have been reported in the region.

UN officials have echoed the call of the Government of Afghanistan to secure Afghan children against the disease by providing them with drops of the anti-polio vaccine. They have also called upon religious scholars, community elders, civil society organizations and educational institutions to extend their support to making the ongoing campaign a success.