Afghanistan launches third polio vaccination drive of 2024

Islamabad, Jul. 8, (dpa/GNA) – Afghanistan has launched another polio vaccination campaign aimed at protecting around 8 million children under the age of 5, the Taliban Health Ministry announced on Monday.

The four-day campaign – the third this year – will cover 23 of the country’s 34 provinces, the ministry said in a statement.

Ministry spokesman Dr. Sharafat Zaman called on religious scholars, community elders and parents to play their part in the fight against polio, a debilitating disease that can lead to paralysis and death.

In December, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the repatriation of Afghan migrants from neighbouring Pakistan has increased the risk of polio spreading. Since then, Afghanistan has conducted several rounds of vaccinations.

Four cases of the virus have been recorded in Afghanistan this year, according to officials. A total of six cases were recorded in the country last year.

Vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan often face challenges due to conspiracy theories that polio vaccines cause infertility or that vaccinators are spies.

Before seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban banned door-to-door vaccinations in areas they controlled. However, the United Nations successfully negotiated with them to resume the vaccination programme across the country after their return to power. GNA