Washington [US], October 23 (ANI): UN agencies are preparing to launch a polio vaccination campaign for all children under 5 in Afghanistan, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Saturday.
Vaccine doses will begin to be administered in Afghanistan on November 8 for the first time in three years, now that the country's new Taliban government has granted approval.
"This is a huge development that now we can go all across Afghanistan and deliver the vaccine house to house," Dr. Hamid Jafari, the World Health Organization's director of polio eradication for the Eastern Mediterranean region, told VOA.
Jafari described the upcoming campaign as "a real combination of excitement and extreme fear -- excitement because it looks like a real opportunity to eradicate wild polio virus finally."Warning that the virus might still be "lurking in some hard-to-reach populations," he said it's critical that the WHO "maintain this momentum to vaccinate our children so that the virus has nowhere to go.""Both Afghanistan and Pakistan really actually need to switch gears," Jafari declared.
Polio's presence in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan, where a U.N. polio vaccination effort begins in December, means the disease can still spread globally. Rotary International, which coordinates a global polio eradication program, predicts "hundreds of thousands of children could be paralyzed" if polio is not eliminated within 10 years, VOA reported.
It further reported that the WHO announced the vaccination campaign on Tuesday, five days before the observance of World Polio Day, part of Rotary International's Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). (ANI)