Afghanistan: Taliban to carry door-to-door polio vaccination drive

Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan are the final international locations on the planet with endemic polio, an incurable and extremely infectious illness.

Health employees in Afghanistan will start a house-to-house polio vaccination drive subsequent month after the brand new Taliban authorities agreed to assist the marketing campaign, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund mentioned.

“WHO and UNICEF welcome the decision by the Taliban leadership supporting the resumption of house-to-house polio vaccination across Afghanistan,” they mentioned in an announcement on Monday.

Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan are the final international locations on the planet with endemic polio, an incurable and extremely infectious illness transmitted via sewage that may trigger crippling paralysis in younger kids.

Polio has been nearly eradicated globally via a decades-long inoculation drive. But insecurity, inaccessible terrain, mass displacement and suspicion of out of doors interference have hampered mass vaccination in Afghanistan and a few areas of Pakistan.

The UN businesses famous that just one case of untamed poliovirus had been reported in Afghanistan for the reason that begin of the 12 months, offering “an extraordinary opportunity to eradicate polio”.

“Restarting polio vaccination now is crucial for preventing any significant resurgence of polio within the country and mitigating the risk of cross-border and international transmission,” they mentioned.

First in additional than three years

The marketing campaign, as a consequence of begin on November 8, would be the first in additional than three years aimed toward all kids in Afghanistan, together with greater than three million in distant and beforehand inaccessible areas.

“This decision will allow us to make a giant stride in the efforts to eradicate polio,” Hervé Ludovic De Lys, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, mentioned in an announcement.

“To eliminate polio completely, every child in every household across Afghanistan must be vaccinated, and with our partners, this is what we are setting out to do,” he mentioned.

A second marketing campaign, as a consequence of start in coordination with a marketing campaign in Pakistan in December, has additionally been agreed to.

According to figures compiled earlier than the collapse of the Western-backed authorities in August, there was one reported case of the wild poliovirus kind 1 (WPV1) in Afghanistan in 2021, in contrast with 56 in 2020.

However, till the illness is eradicated solely, it stays a risk to human well being in all international locations, particularly these with susceptible well being methods, due to the danger of importing the illness.

Since the Taliban swept again into energy two months in the past, the UN had been speaking with the group’s management to deal with the towering well being challenges within the nation, the assertion mentioned.

“The Taliban leadership has expressed their commitment for the inclusion of female frontline workers,” it mentioned.

Afghanistan’s new rulers had additionally dedicated to “providing security and assuring the safety of all health workers across the country, which is an essential prerequisite for the implementation of polio vaccination campaigns,” the businesses mentioned.

That marks a dramatic about-face from the group’s place throughout their years of preventing towards the Western-backed authorities.

Due primarily to Taliban opposition to door-to-door vaccination campaigns, which they suspected have been getting used to spy on their actions, no campaigns with countrywide reach have been carried out in additional than three years.

Taliban leaders typically instructed communities in areas they managed that vaccines have been a Western conspiracy aimed toward sterilising Muslim kids.