Over 1.3 million children in Afghanistan at risk from polio

July 5, 2018

The latest drive to eradicate polio from Afghanistan kicked off this week. In the five-day campaign, about 52,000 Afghan healthcare workers are expected to administer polio vaccines to 6.4 million children under the age of five, according to a statement issued by Afghanistan’s Health Ministry.

Afghan Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz said the timing of the campaign was important as children were more likely to contract the virus at this time of the year. “The primary reports suggest that in the first round, around 1,347,000 children would be deprived of the vaccination in Helmand, Uruzgan, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Kunar and Kunzduz where anti-government forces oppose government’s polio drive,” he said in a statement.

Afghanistan’s Health Ministry has reported nine polio cases this year across the country. The latest case of a three-year-old child was reported from restive Nad e Ali district of southern Kandahar province. He could not be administered vaccination because the insurgents don’t allow it there.

The battle for eradication of polio in Afghanistan – one of the only three countries besides Pakistan and Nigeria on World Health Organization's (WHO) list of countries – continues. According to WHO, both Nigeria and Afghanistan present grim cases as the number of polio cases continue to creep up.

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