Statement by Toby Lanzer, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator: Polio Vaccination in Shahwalikot Now Crucial [EN/Dari/PS]

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Campaign to Start on Monday 18 December 2017

(Kabul, 17 December 2017): The district of Shahwalikot in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province has the highest number of polio cases of any district in the world, putting at risk hundreds of thousands of children. In the past days, yet another case of wild poliovirus was found. A polio vaccination campaign throughout the district is now more urgent than ever. The health authorities with support from UNICEF and WHO are to vaccinate thousands of children in the district starting on Monday 18 December 2017.

International humanitarian law stipulates clear responsibilities for all parties to the conflict to facilitate the work of health workers, whether governmental or non-governmental, at all times. I call on the authorities and all people with influence, including the leaders of the communities in Shahwalikot, to ensure that this polio vaccination campaign takes place by helping health workers, facilitating their task and protecting them and their supplies so that all children are protected against polio.

The outbreak of polio in Shahwalikot means that Afghanistan remains one of only three countries in the world that is still polio-endemic and polio eradication is at risk globally. This week’s campaign in Kandahar is more important than ever. Together, with the support of all actors on the ground, we can help Afghans rid themselves once and for all of this terrible disease.

For further information, please contact:
Philippe Kropf, Public Information Officer OCHA Afghanistan (kropf@un.org / +93 (0)793 001 110)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.