1.5 million to be vaccinated against polio in Afghanistan
2 September 2010 – The United Nations is moving swiftly to vaccinate 1.5 million children after a polio case was detected in an area of north-eastern Afghanistan which had been free of the disease for more than a decade.
The polio case was identified in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province. It had been assumed that the source of the virus was in neighbouring Tajikistan, which is currently in the midst of a large outbreak, but now it appears that it may have been the result of cross-border population movement from Pakistan.
For three days starting this Sunday, 1.5 million children under the age of five will be vaccinated in five adjacent provinces: Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Baghlan and Balkh.
To ensure that no child is left unvaccinated, house-to-house visits will be carried out, mobile clinics will be set up, fixed teams will be established in hospitals and immunization posts will be created at border crossing points.
“Afghanistan’s northern regions have been polio-free for some 10 years, making it all the more important to contain possible spill-over effects from outbreaks in neighbouring areas,” said Peter Crowley, UNICEF Representative in the country.