Kabul: A country-wide polio vaccination drive will begin in Afghanistan on November 8 for the first time since the Taliban took over the country in August, the Unicef announced on Monday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef welcome the decision by the Taliban, who support the resumption of house-to-house drive across the country, the agency said in a statement.
The campaign will be the first in over three years to reach all children in Afghanistan, including more than 3.3 million kids in parts of the country who have “previously remained inaccessible to vaccination campaigns”, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
“A second nationwide polio vaccination campaign has also been agreed and will be synchronised with Pakistan’s own polio campaign planned in December,” according to the statement.
“This is an extremely important step in the right direction,” said Dapeng Luo, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.
“We know that multiple doses of oral polio vaccine offer the best protection, so we are pleased to see that there is another campaign planned before the end of this year. Sustained access to all children is essential to end polio for good. This must remain a top priority,” he said.
“This decision will allow us to make a giant stride in the efforts to eradicate polio,” said Herve Ludovic De Lys, Unicef Representative in Afghanistan.
“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 said.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two remaining polio endemic countries in the world.