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Around 9.9 m children to be vaccinated this week

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AT-Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) along with the UNICEF and the WHO will launch the third round of polio National Immunization Days (NIDs) on Monday across Afghanistan for three days.

During this campaign more than 9.9 million children under age of five will be vaccinated and more than 8.7 million children aged 6 months to five years will be given vitamin A to immunize their bodies against the diseases. On Friday of this week, vaccinators will revisit the households to ensure that all children vaccinated against this disease.

The inauguration ceremony on this occasion held today here in Kabul was attended by the minister of public health of Afghanistan, representatives of WHO and UNICEF and Islamic Scholars who were highlighting in their remarks that all parents and caregivers must vaccinate their children against this paralyzing disease in each round of polio vaccination campaign.

Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, the Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan said:” despite widespread insecurity, we are pleased to let you know that around 98% of the country population had access to polio immunization services in each nationwide round this year. Moreover, the long lasting inaccessible children are less than 0.25%.”

Public Health Minister once again emphasized on neutrality of the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) in Afghanistan and called upon the all conflict sides in the country to respect the neutrality of the program and support the polio workers by providing safety working environment in order that they be able reach every child with two drops of vaccine, everywhere, in each round of campaign.

The vaccinators are trustable individuals selected voluntarily from their communities and introduced by the community elders for the program. They have been trained for successful implementation of polio vaccination campaigns and their activities in each round of the campaign are monitored by the program’s supervisors and monitors. More than 77,000 vaccinators and health workers are involved for the successful implementation of this campaign.

Polio vaccine is safe and does not have any side effect even for sleeping, sick and newborn children and they should be vaccinated in each round of campaign. This vaccine from perspective of Islamic Sharia has been confirmed by Islamic scholars in Afghanistan and entire Islamic world and they have considered it much necessary for protection of the children from polio and obligated the parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated against this preventable disease.

Besides launching of Sub National Immunization Days (SNIDs) in high risk areas, four rounds of NIDs have been planned for this year and before this campaign, two spring rounds of NIDs already implemented successfully in the country and the fourth round of NIDs will be launched in the recent month of the year.

Except Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, the rest countries of the world have eradicated polio from their territories and now the international community is committed to provide technical and financial support for these three countries in order to obtain the status of polio free. If the polio remains undereducated in these countries, it may threaten the other polio free countries, because the polio virus does not recognize any border and it can be transmitted by un-immunized children and people moving from village to village and even country to country.

Wild poliovirus circulation has been stopped in most parts of Afghanistan and it has been localized in small insecure areas of the country. In 2017 only 6 positive cases of polio occurred in Afghanistan; 2 cases from Kandahar, 2 cases from Helmand,1 case from Kunduz and most recent 1 case from Zabul have been reported since the beginning 2017. In 2016, 13 positive cases of polio were registered in the country.

The Ministry of public health continuously requests religious and community leaders to provide support for polio workers and encourage the parents and caregivers to present their children for getting vaccine.