Afghanistan

MoPH, UNICEF and WHO resumes Vaccination Weeks for 2011

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Kabul-19April 2011. The Ministry of Public Health in partnership with UNICEF and WHO is resuming for the second year vaccination weeks with a comprehensive package designed to protect children in vulnerable and hard-to-reach districts.

The 2nd Vaccination Week Campaign in Afghanistan will be launched under the theme of “comprehensive partnership for immunization”, demonstrating the country’s vision and key strategy in addressing the increasing priorities of immunization programmes. Through innovative and combined advocacy, education and munication activities, the Vaccination Week initiative intends to raise awareness, rease vaccine utilization, mobilize resources and secure strong political support for immunization programmes

As with the 1st Vaccination Week Campaign, the 2011 event will inspire innovative national events with regional relevance. We are expecting that a variety of activities will be carried out including workshops, seminars, media campaigns, celebrations, and social mobilization. Afghanistan will expand its vaccination services, such as tracking unvaccinated people and extending implementation of large-scale vaccination campaign and leveraging Child Health Weeks to deliver an integrated package of life-saving health interventions.

Child Health Weeks- as this initiative is called- will target about 118,000children under five in 50 districts of the country, selected due to low immunization coverage, high immunization drop-outs, children’s disease incidence, identified weaknesses of the health and nutrition system delivery and poor understanding and insufficient demand for basic services.

In addition preventive health services will accompany immunization activities during the course of the week.

The childhood diseases that children will be vaccinated against are measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, Pertusis (whooping cough), tetanus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenza-B, and polio.

Approximately 1685 vaccination teams will mobilize across these50districts during the first round of Child Health Week which will start on 20 May 2011. It is estimated that at least 5055personnel will be deployed to carry out the activities.

Through this initiative, the government has reinforced its commitment towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4, which aims to reduce child death by two-thirds by 2015.

Afghanistan has already made important progress towards expanding immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases including polio, but challenges still remain.One in five newborns is not reached by routine immunization services. Important geographical disparities exist. Conflict and natural disasters hinder access to many children. Health systems continue to be fragile especially in the war-torn provinces. In addition a nutrition assessment of children under five years (6-59 months) will be conducted to obtain a snapshot of acute malnutrition to enableefficient response. Iron folate supplementation will be provided to women of childbearing age.

For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Public Health, Dr Mohammad TaufiqMashal, Acting Director General Preventive

Medicine,mtmashal@yahoo.com ; + 93 708 284 144

UNICEF Kabul, Aziz Froutan ; aafroutan@unicef.org; +93 (0) 798 50 7113

WHO Liisamaria Keates; keatesl@afg.emro.who.int; + 93 (0) 702 217 730