Nearly 8 million Afghan children to benefit in latest UN polio vaccination drive

Child being vaccinated against Polio in Afghanistan

15 March 2010 – United Nations agencies and the Afghan health ministry are conducting a three-day campaign aimed at vaccinating an estimated 7.7 million children under the age of five against polio.

Afghanistan is one of four countries – along with India, Pakistan and Nigeria – where the highly infectious disease which can leave patients totally paralyzed is still endemic.

The campaign which began yesterday is the second one launched this year by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, building on a series of national immunization days and house-to-house vaccination schemes which ran last year.

A similar polio vaccination campaign last month targeted an estimated 2.8 million children.

Meanwhile, WHO is boosting its stock of medical supplies in the southern province of Kandahar, in anticipation of a deteriorating security situation and possible population displacement, Nilab Mobarez of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told reporters in Kabul today.

The agency has pre-positioned enough supplies to cover the essential health needs of 80,000 people for three months.

The UN is continuing to monitor the situation in the neighbouring southern province of Helmand in the wake of recently military operations there, and have increased emergency supplies in the area, UNAMA added.

The UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some 275 families – about 27,700 people – were displaced from Marjah town and Nad Ali district in Helmand from 8 February to 4 March.

UN partner agencies reported that 88 per cent of the displaced families have received assistance, including from UNHCR, WHO and the World Food Programme (WFP).


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