Islamabad, Nov 8, (Asia Free Press): A polio vaccination campaign, the first nationwide campaign to fight the disease in three years was launched in Afghanistan on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), according to Reuters
National Emergency Operations Coordinator for the polio programme at the Afghan Ministry of Health Naikwali Shah Momim said the campaign had begun in various parts of Afghanistan early on Monday, but he added that there were several obstacles due to a lack of trained personnel.
Taliban support will allow teams to reach children in previously inaccessible areas of the country as part of this campaign, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Director Ahmed Al Mandhari said in a statement that “the urgency with which the Taliban leadership wants the polio campaign to proceed demonstrates a joint commitment to maintain the health system and restart essential immunizations to avert further outbreaks of preventable diseases.”
Momim, on the other hand, said that more training was needed for teams in remote areas, so the programme would begin in Kabul at the beginning.
End-stage polio, a disease that can paralyse young children and is spread through sewage, is only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, two of the world’s last endemic polio countries.
A decades-long campaign to immunise the world against polio has effectively eliminated the disease. However, in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, vaccination campaigns have been hampered by factors such as political unrest, difficult terrain, large-scale population shifts, and a general distrust of outsiders.
In 2021, there was only one case of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) reported in Afghanistan, compared to 56 in 2020, according to WHO data compiled before the collapse of the Western-backed government in August.
All nations, including those with weak health systems and those where the disease can spread, are at risk until the disease is eliminated, say health experts.