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Taliban govt to resume polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan

18 Oct, 2021
The Taliban says it will resume the polio vaccine campaign in November. WHO
The Taliban says it will resume the polio vaccine campaign in November. WHO

The Taliban interim government has allowed the polio vaccination process to resume on November 8 across Afghanistan according to a story in Khaama news agency on Monday.

The acting Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan Dr Qalandar Ibad has directed provinces to take necessary steps for running a successful polio vaccination campaign, according to a story in ARY.

The campaign will be the first in three years to vaccinate 3.3 million children Khaama reported.

The news was welcomed by WHO regional director of Polio Eradication, Dr Hamid Jafari on Twitter.

World Health Organization’s representative in Afghanistan Dapeng Luo also welcomed the decision.

“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 in essential to end polio for good," they said.

In September, high level officials from WHO visited Afghanistan and issued a statement about the dire health needs in the country which required urgent attention.

"Afghanistan is one of two countries in the world where polio remains endemic," it said.

"With only one case of wild poliovirus reported so far this year, compared to 56 in 2020, there has never been a better time to eradicate polio. However, the polio programme will struggle to respond if the basic immunization infrastructure begins to collapse around it. Measles outbreaks are also spreading. With access to all communities no longer impeded, WHO and partners are ready to begin a country-wide house-to-house polio vaccination campaign and include measles and COVID vaccination in an integrated campaign."

Afghanistan has struggled to vaccinate its children against polio. In June this year, prior to the Taliban taking control, five polio vaccine workers were shot dead. In March, three workers were shot dead.

The UN had to suspend its vaccine campaign in the eastern province as a result of it.