Afghanistan: Fourth round of Sub National Immunization Days (SNIDs) against polio officially launched by Dr. Fatimie, Minister of Public Health

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Dr. Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatimie the Minister of Public Health (MoPH) officially launched the fourth round of Sub National Immunization Days (SNIDs) in 2009 by dropping polio vaccines to the mouth of a child. The campaign against polio continues for three days in 14 provinces of Afghanistan.

MoPH with the technical and financial support from the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children?s Funds (UNICEF) and donor communities conducts this supplementary immunization to provide immunity against polio to the under 5 year age children to stop circulation of wild polio virus inside Afghanistan and importation of virus from neighboring countries. By achieving and sustaining these two targets, Afghanistan will soon obtain the status of a polio free country.

19854 staff of MoPH and volunteers will drop polio vaccines to the mouth of 2.8 million under 5 years age children in 14 provinces of the country. This operation which covers all villages of mentioned provinces provides a unique opportunity to Afghan families to get their children vaccinated against Polio and be in contact with the health workers said Dr. S. M. Amin Fatimie, Minister of Public Health of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We request all Afghans, health workers and health partners to provide any kind of help and support to this process so that all target children could get vaccinated in the coming 3 days he added.

MoPH is determined to reach the goal of Polio eradication, therefore in comparison to year 2008 this year it increased the number of campaigns from 4 rounds to 6 across the country. 6 previous rounds of the vaccination have been completed successfully and this is the fourth sub-round. Estimated cost of this round is around $1,3 million. Currently 31 positive polio cases are registered in Kandahar (19), Helmand (9), Nooristan (1), Kapisa (1) and Ghor (1) provinces. Afghanistan is among 4 endemic countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Hindustan and Nigeria) that have the least number of polio cases at present.

What is polio?

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. The virus enters the body through mouth and multiplies in the intestines and then it invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. There are certain key facts about polio for example there is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life; poliovirus can travel from village to village and from country to country through un-immunized children, one un-immunized child can leave tens or hundreds more paralyzed for life. Children everywhere are at risk of infection.

High population density, bad environmental sanitation, bad personal hygiene, low routine Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) coverage, bad Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIAs) coverage, high population movement and hidden inaccessible communities are the factors that can sustain polio virus circulation.

Poliovirus is spread by the fecal-oral route, which, despite its unsavory name is a common route of microbial infection. The virus can be isolated from human feces and sewage. In areas where raw sewage enters a watershed without treatment, polio can be found in rivers, lakes and streams. When a susceptible person drinks water from one of these sources (possibly from the kitchen tap when local water supplies are not treated properly), the virus enters his/her digestive tract.