Afghanistan Launches National Polio Immunization Days Campaign

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Over 9.5 million children to be immunized and provided with de-worming tablets

Kabul, 16 October 2016 – The Ministry of Public Health, together with UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch a national effort today to vaccinate every child in Afghanistan under the age of 5 against polio. The campaign runs throughout Afghanistan for four days, from 17-19 October, with a catch-up day to revisit missed children on 21 October.

Polio is a crippling disease that cannot be treated but it can be prevented through vaccination. Every child under the age of five in Afghanistan should be vaccinated during each immunization round to ensure they are protected. The polio vaccine is completely safe for new-borns, sleeping and sick children and the vaccine has no side effects.

During this polio campaign all children aged 2- 5 years will also receive de-worming tablets. These deworming tablets prevent worm infections that cause anaemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development in children, and improve children’s overall health and development.

“Afghanistan is on track to stopping the transmission of polio and our focus is now on finding and vaccinating every child missed for any reason. Most of Afghanistan remains polio-free,” said H.E. Dr Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health. “Everyone has a role to play in stopping this debilitating disease and ensuring that no more children are paralyzed by polio.”

So far this year there have been 8 polio cases in Afghanistan reported from Kunar, Kandahar, Helmand, Paktika. The last case confirmed by the laboratory was from Bermel. As a response, localized campaigns were conducted in Burmul district. The Kabul case under investigation has been reported negative by the resent laboratory report.

This week’s immunization campaign will be carried out by over 65,000 trained health workers going from house to house. These vaccinators and other frontline health workers are trusted members of the community and they have been chosen because they care about children and their communities.

Parents who miss having their children vaccinated over the campaign days are urged to visit local health centres where their children can be vaccinated against polio.