Afghanistan launches anti-polio drive after fresh case

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Kabul, Oct 17 (IANS) Afghanistan kicked off a mass vaccination campaign against polio after a new case of the infectious disease was confirmed recently, the Public Health Ministry said on Monday.

Starting from Monday, the house-to-house drive will target 9.5 million children less than five years old, Xinhua news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

“The campaign runs throughout Afghanistan for four days, from October 17-19, with a catch-up day to revisit missed children on October 21,” the statement said.

The number of polio cases recorded in the militancy-hit country has risen to eight so far this year after a fresh case was confirmed in Barmal district of Paktika province while some cases were detected in Kunar, Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

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“Polio is a crippling disease that cannot be treated but prevented through vaccination. Every child under the age of five in Afghanistan should be vaccinated during each immunisation round to ensure they are protected,” the statement said.

“Afghanistan is on track to stopping the transmission of polio and our focus is now on finding and vaccinating every child missed for any reason. Most of Afghanistan remains polio-free,” Afghan Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz said.

During this polio campaign, all children aged 2-5 years will also receive de-worming tablets, the statement said.

The ongoing insurgency and conflicts have been hindering the efforts to stamp out the infectious disease in the mountainous country.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where the polio virus is yet to be eradicated.

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