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Anti-polio drive targeting 6.4m children starts tomorrow

Anti-polio drive targeting 6.4m children starts tomorrow

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Sep 23, 2018 - 17:19

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): A five-day anti-polio vaccination campaign will be launched tomorrow (Monday) targeting 6.4 million children under the age of five years in 27 high-risk provinces, mainly in Kandahar and Nangarhar.

The campaign follows several new cases in both the regions. Last week, a 14-month-old boy from Loyawala was confirmed to have polio and will be permanently paralysed --- the 14th case in Afghanistaninfo-icon, and the 9th case in the southern region.

“In Afghanistan, the efforts for polio eradication have been intensified more than ever. The Ministry of Public Healthinfo-icon and its health partners are committed to ending this disease. But what we need is the solid commitment and necessary cooperation of the community,” said Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz in a statement.

“If the community does not cooperate with us, we will not be able to reach every child with the lifesaving polio vaccine. Whenever a child misses the vaccine, they can be impacted by polio.”

The minister requested parents, community leaders, imams, and tribal elders to cooperate with vaccinators to ensure that all children were vaccinated and protected from being paralyzed. “I would also like to remind everyone that the vaccine is safe,” said Feroz.

The vaccination campaign will take place from 24 - 28 September 2018, said the minister, who asked parents to ensure their children were home and available to be vaccinated. 

He said all children under five should receive the polio vaccine, including newborns, sleeping, sick, and visiting children. 

Children who miss the vaccination should visit their local health centre as soon as possible, where the vaccine is available free of charge.

“The polio vaccine is safe, even for sick and newborn children. It is very important these children get the vaccine because they have lower immunity which makes them more susceptible to the virus. Repeated vaccination is very important for children because it builds their immunity to the virus.”

Meanwhile, religious scholar Mualvi Samiullah Raihan said vaccinating children against polio was every Muslim’s responsibility and obligation.

Prominent Islamic scholars and reliable Islamic references from Afghanistan and globally have issued fatwas on the importance of vaccination against polio. 

“If parents do not vaccinate their children as a result of negligence and undue propaganda, they are actually committing a great sin and injustice against their innocent children.”

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease and the polio vaccine is the only safe and effective way to protect children.

Currently, Afghanistan, Pakistaninfo-icon, and Nigeria are the only three remaining polio-endemic countries in the worldinfo-icon.  

pr/ma

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