President launches nationwide anti-polio drive
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Saturday launched a three-day nationwide anti-polio vaccination campaign, involving 52,000 volunteers, his office said.
As many as 7.8 million children below five years of age would be administered polio vaccine. Some 4.6 million children under the age of two will be given Albendazole tablets.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the drive, Karzai urged all Afghans to cooperate with health workers and volunteers, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
At least 13 polio cases were detected in seven districts of Kandahar, Helmand and Farah provinces over the past eight months. In 2010, 24 cases were registered in Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Farah and Nangarhar.
Also present at the ceremony was the acting public health minister, Dr. Suraya Dalil, who called on governors, district chiefs, mayors, police heads, highway police, tribal elders and influential figures to cooperate with the vaccinators.
In the eastern province of Nangarhar, a similar campaign, targeting more than 781,000 children, was launched. The drive was launched after 87 polio cases were found in the neighbouring Pakistan.
Director of Public Health Dr. Baz Mohammad Sherzad told Pajhwok Afghan News that
5,200 volunteers would administer polio drops to 1,303,000 children in 52 districts of Laghman, Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar.
Kandahar Public Health Director Dr. Abdul Qayyum Pukhla said a similar campaign had been launched across the southern zone. The disease, eliminated at the beginning of 2011, has increased during the last two months.
Positive cases have been detected in Kandahar City, Panjwai, Maiwand, Shah Walikot, Sangin, Musa Qala and Nahr-i-Saraj districts of Kandahar and Helmand.
The main reasons include a lack of cooperation from community leaders with volunteers, ongoing insecurity and a long border with Pakistan.