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 girls to be frontline employees 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 known as the “world’s polio capital,” a spot the place vaccinators have confronted the dual challenges of a lack of access to sufferers and deadly 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 youngsters, in accordance to Dr. Hamid Jafari, head of polio eradication for the W.H.O.’s japanese Mediterranean area.

More than 3.Three million youngsters had beforehand “remained inaccessible to vaccination campaigns,” in accordance to the assertion saying the drive. Children who’re 6 months to 59 months previous may also be given vitamin A dietary supplements through the marketing campaign, officers mentioned.

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

“We welcome W.H.O.’s effort to launch its polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan and are ready to help and coordinate,” Bilal Karimi, a Taliban spokesman, mentioned. “Women can also participate in this campaign and work closely with health workers to provide vaccinations to our people.”

In addition to this polio vaccination program, set to begin in early November, “all parties have agreed on the need to immediately start measles and Covid-19 vaccination campaigns,” the assertion from the United Nations and W.H.O. mentioned. A second polio vaccination program in Afghanistan can be synchronized with one in neighboring Pakistan that’s scheduled to start in December, it mentioned.

Half a dozen extra vaccination applications are scheduled to start subsequent 12 months, in accordance to Dr. Jafari.

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

Dr. Jafari mentioned that tens of hundreds of girls have been anticipated to work in the vaccination effort, as vaccinators, supervisors and managers.

The announcement comes after a number of assaults on polio vaccinators this 12 months, stifling efforts to inoculate youngsters towards the illness. In June, a minimum of 5 members of two polio vaccination groups have been killed in someday throughout separate assaults in Jalalabad in japanese Afghanistan. In the identical metropolis, three girls working for the federal government’s polio vaccine marketing campaign have been shot dead in late March.

“UNICEF is outraged by this attack,” the group said on the time of the March killings. “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 mentioned.

While no group took accountability for these assaults, the Islamic State Khorasan, also referred to as ISIS-Ok, was lively in the east and had claimed accountability for comparable assaults on girls and civil society leaders in the world.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August, 20 years after the American-led invasion of the nation drove the group from energy. The new authorities has dedicated to offering safety to well being care employees.

Health officers welcomed the Taliban’s assist for this system. In the previous, the motion expressed skepticism of door-to-door vaccination drives, saying they believed some vaccinators acted as spies in sure elements of the nation. Elsewhere, the Taliban allowed vaccinators to perform their work in districts beneath their management.

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

Dr. Ahmed al-Mandhari, the W.H.O.’s regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, mentioned, “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, mentioned 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.”

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