No polio case in south in a year: MoPH
KABUL (PAN): No new polio case has been reported in Afghanistan’s insurgency-haunted south this year, indicating success in Afghanistan’s fight against the crippling disease, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said on Friday.
Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative for Afghanistan, said: “This achievement is the result of the tireless work of vaccinators, social mobilisers, health workers, community elders, religious leaders, media, and most importantly, parents.”
Efforts had continued across Afghanistan to strengthen the routine immunisation system so that children were better protected from all vaccine-preventable diseases and to sustain achievements in polio eradication in the long term, the statement said.
“A year without any cases of wild poliovirus reported in the southern region is an encouraging milestone and great credit to front-line health workers,” remarked Minister of Public Health Dr. Suraya Dalil.
As many as 37 polio cases were reported in Afghanistan in 2012, compared with nine detected in 2013 so far as a result of repeated cross-border polio virus importation and subsequent child-to-child transmission.
Vidhya Ganesh, the UNICEF representative for Afghanistan, said it was a timely reminder the strategies and tools they were using did work and that they could eradicate polio once and for all.
“We all now need to work harder than ever to build the immunity of children across the country through oral polio vaccine but also to prevent the spread of the disease through healthier practices, including exclusive breastfeeding and better hygiene and sanitation,” Ganesh added.
Kandahar and Helmand provinces have long been identified as the epicentres of polio and the southern region as one of the most persistent reservoirs of poliovirus globally.
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