75 suspected polio cases reported in Helmand
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Seventy-five suspected cases of polio have been reported in southern Helmand province where insecurity recently deprived about 10,000 children from polio drops, an official said on Sunday.
Provincial Public Health Department official Dr. Abdul Ahad Hazim told Pajhwok Afghan News the 10,000 children could not be administrated polio vaccines in central and northern districts of the province due to insecurity.
The northern and central districts include Marja, Nad Ali, Nawa, Greshk, Musa Qala, Sangin, Kajaki, Baghran, Nawzad and Washer.
Hazim said previously children in all districts would receive polio drops, but this time children in all areas could not be reached out with vaccines owing to clashes between security forces and militants.
He said rigorous efforts were underway to administer polio drops to all children in future campaigns.
A nationwide polio vaccination campaign is due to be launched next month.
World Health Organization (WHO) regional head in Helmand Tehsil Khan told Pajhwok Afghan News thousands of children could not be given polio vaccines due to insecurity in Helmand.
However, he said they were jointly working with Public Health Department officials to resolve the issue. He said their surveys showed 75 suspected cases of polio had been seen in the province.
“We have started medical examination of the children to determine they have polio or another disease,” he said.
He said the suspected cases had been reported from areas where clashes continued. To detect suspected cases, he said, tribal elders, religious scholars, teachers and students were assisting them.
Helmand public health director Dr. Inayatullah Ghaffari told Pajhwok Afghan News the polio virus could not be eliminated from the country.
“We are concerned the virus has not been eliminated from the country. We are trying to combat the disease by effectively implementing our programmes.”
The public health director said 5,000 volunteers worked with his department in carrying out vaccination campaigns.
The official said 16 positive cases of polio were found across the country last year when one positive case was detected in Helmand.
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