Statement by UNICEF South Asia Regional Director, Jean Gough, from Afghanistan and Pakistan border
SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan, 13 November 2017 – “The town of Spin Boldak on Afghanistan’s southern border with Pakistan is at the epicentre of the global effort to eradicate polio.
“This year, only Afghanistan and Pakistan have recorded wild poliovirus cases and the virus has no respect for the borders. As of 9 November 2017, there are 14 cases of wild poliovirus globally – nine in Afghanistan and five in Pakistan – the lowest number recorded in history.
“Just this week, Afghanistan’s ninth case of the year, a three-year-old boy, was confirmed in eastern Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan, with the virus linked to transmission that had occurred earlier in the year across the border in Peshawar.
“The reality is that you can’t eradicate polio without coordination between health teams in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and a cross-border response in areas such as Spin Boldak.
“Today, I met and saw vaccination teams in action who, day in and out, educate parents on the importance of vaccination and vaccinate children as they cross the border.”
They are making a difference – since January this year, more than 44,000 Afghan children under 10 have been immunized at 19 vaccination posts along the border with Pakistan and Iran.
“UNICEF and partners are committed to end polio and will continue to do whatever we can to stop the virus in its tracks, so that every child in Afghanistan and Pakistan – and the world - can grow up without fear of this entirely preventable deadly and debilitating virus.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.
For more information, please contact:
Denise Shepherd-Johnson, UNICEF Afghanistan, Mobile: +93 (0) 730 717110, firstname.lastname@example.org
Feridoon Aryan, UNICEF Afghanistan, Mobile: +93 (0) 730 717 115, email@example.com