Taliban Allow Polio Vaccine Program to Restart in Afghanistan


In an effort to eradicate polio and enhance well being measures for kids in Afghanistan, the Taliban authorities has agreed to restart a door-to-door vaccination program subsequent month, and can permit ladies to be frontline staff in the drive, well being officers introduced on Tuesday.

The announcement, by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund, is a breakthrough in a rustic that has been referred to as the “world’s polio capital,” a spot the place vaccinators have confronted the dual challenges of an absence of entry to sufferers and lethal violence.

The five-day nationwide program to distribute the polio vaccine, which is given orally and in a number of doses, will start Nov. 8, in accordance to officers. The drive goals to attain about 10 million kids, in accordance to Dr. Hamid Jafari, head of polio eradication for the W.H.O.’s jap Mediterranean area.

More than 3.3 million kids had beforehand “remained inaccessible to vaccination campaigns,” in accordance to the assertion saying the drive. Children who’re 6 months to 59 months outdated will even be given vitamin A dietary supplements in the course of the marketing campaign, officers stated.

Word of the settlement comes because the Taliban have been exhibiting some restricted flexibility in dealings with the skin world as the federal government seeks desperately wanted assist amid an ailing financial system and rising meals shortage.

In addition to this polio vaccination program, “all parties have agreed on the need to immediately start measles and Covid-19 vaccination campaigns,” the assertion from the teams stated. And a second polio vaccination program in Afghanistan can be synchronized with one in neighboring Pakistan that’s scheduled to start in December, it stated.

Half a dozen extra vaccination applications are scheduled to start subsequent yr, in accordance to Dr. Jafari.

In saying the vaccination program, well being officers stated the Taliban “expressed their commitment” to permit ladies to be frontline staff in the drive and “for providing security and assuring the safety of all health workers across the country.”

Dr. Jafari stated that tens of hundreds of ladies had been anticipated to work in the vaccination effort, as vaccinators, supervisors and managers.

The announcement comes months after a number of ladies working as polio vaccinators had been killed, stifling efforts to inoculate kids towards the illness. In March, three ladies working for the federal government’s polio vaccine marketing campaign had been shot useless in Jalalabad in jap Afghanistan, native officers stated.

“UNICEF is outraged by this attack,” the group stated on the time. “Frontline health workers should never be a target of violence.”

Around the identical time of the shootings, there was an explosion on the metropolis’s regional hospital, close to the compound the place the vaccines are saved, officers stated.

No group took credit score for these assaults. But the Taliban have in the previous expressed skepticism of door-to-door vaccination drives, saying they believed some vaccinators acted as spies.

The Taliban returned to energy in Afghanistan in August, 20 years after the American-led invasion of the nation drove the group from energy.

Health officers welcomed the Taliban’s help for this system.

“We’ve been working with them for decades,” Dr. Jafari stated, noting that the Taliban managed giant components of the nation throughout their exile from energy. The Taliban “have always been supportive of polio vaccination and eradication,” he stated.

Dr. Ahmed al-Mandhari, the WHO’s regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, stated, “The urgency with which the Taliban leadership wants the polio campaign to proceed demonstrates a joint commitment to maintain the health system and restart essential immunizations to avert further outbreaks of preventable diseases.”

Restarting this vaccination program, stated George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia, is “a step closer toward achieving our shared hope of eradicating polio in the region.”