Afghanistan launches first polio vaccination campaign of the year | Health Info

A nationwide campaign to immunize nearly 10 million children under the age of five has started, officials said.

Afghanistan has launched a nationwide campaign to administer polio vaccine to nearly 10 million children under the age of five, the country’s public health ministry said.

Some 65,000 health workers will implement the campaign over a five-day period, polio campaign public relations official Mir Jan Rasikh told the DPA news agency on Monday.

Last year, 3.4 million children were deprived of the vaccine in this war-torn country. As a result, at least 56 Afghan children have contracted the crippling disease, officials said.

The Taliban armed group does not allow health workers in areas under their control to conduct door-to-door campaigns.

Fighters in the group say that in the past, the campaign was used to gather intelligence in some provinces.

Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Sunday met with officials from the World Health Organization and UNICEF for South Asia in Qatar, where they discussed polio vaccination and other communicable diseases, the group said.

It is not known if Taliban fighters agreed to allow a door-to-door campaign in areas under their control.

Officials warn that lack of access would again deprive around 3 million children of the vaccine.

The deadly virus has been wiped out from the rest of the world, but is still widespread in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has launched a similar campaign.

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