Polio Eradication Initiative senior leadership from Afghanistan and the region assessed the programme activities in Kandahar
A joint mission led by the Senior advisor to the Minister / National Focal Point for Polio Eradication Dr. Hedayatullah Stanekzai, WHO Director for PEI across the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr. Syed Hamid Jafari, Afghanistan/Pakistan Polio Hub Coordinator Dr.
Joanna Nikulin, WHO Representative in Afghanistan Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, and WHO Polio Team Leader for Afghanistan Dr. Zubair Wadood Mufti visited Kandahar to assess the programme.
Afghanistan as a country in general and the southern region as the polio transmission engine in particular present numerous challenges, where insecurity and inaccessibility are atop. While reviewing the situation in the southern region at the Emergency Operation Centre,
Dr. Stanekzai urged the teams, including polio and EPI teams to synergistically work toward the goal of polio eradication.
In addition to an emphasis on more female workers for enhanced access, and focusing on population on the move, Dr. Hamid Jafri, emphasized that campaigns’ quality improvement in large and accessible population centres of Kandahar and Lashkargah was vital. Such focus, Dr. Jafari insisted, would stop poliovirus transmission in the southern region and Afghanistan.
Mr. Jafari says, “We are definitely up against a lot of challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, however, at the end of the day it is not a task too complicated. What we need is undivided attention of all parties involved and eventually support of the mothers and fathers who have children aged under five.” The delegation also met the Governor of Kandahar seeking his support and personal patronage for polio programme, and made field visits to meet the vaccination teams, their supervisors and observed the surveillance system for polioviruses. The delegation had in-depth discussions with the field staff to better understand the challenges and discuss the possible solutions and way forward.