ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan will launch a massive new polio vaccination campaign on Monday aimed at protecting more than 8.8 million children, the Health Ministry announced on Sunday, reported German news agency (dpa).
The campaign will last four days, but will be extended to one week in 42 districts in the eastern part of the country where the risk of the virus is very high, the ministry added. Children under the age of 10 will be vaccinated in these areas, too, while elsewhere the age cap for the vaccine is five.
Recently, the World Health Organisation warned that the repatriation of migrants from neighbouring Pakistan has heightened the risk of spreading the virus.
The Taliban de-facto government Health Minister Qalandar Ibaad said the number of positive cases recorded this year is concerning. He asked all Afghans, including parents, to take part in the fight against the disease.
According to the official figures, at least six cases of the wild type of poliovirus were detected in Afghanistan this year. Last year, two cases were detected nationwide.
Vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan often encounter difficulties due to conspiracy theories that the polio vaccination causes infertility, or that people giving the vaccines are spies.
Before seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban had banned door-to-door vaccinations in the areas they controlled. But the UN successfully negotiated with them to resume the vaccination programme across the country after their return to power.
Polio is an infectious disease that can cause paralysis and lead to death. – Bernama, dpa