Afghanistan to restart polio vaccination programme with Taliban support | Global health

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Afghanistan will restart nationwide polio vaccinations after greater than three years, as the brand new Taliban authorities agreed to help the marketing campaign and to permit girls to take part as frontline employees, the UN mentioned on Monday.

The World Health Organization and Unicef mentioned the vaccination drive would start on 8 November with Taliban support.

“WHO and Unicef welcome the decision by the Taliban leadership supporting the resumption of house-to-house polio vaccination across Afghanistan,” the UN assertion learn.

“The Taliban leadership has expressed their commitment for the inclusion of female frontline workers.”

The announcement is a turnaround from the Islamists’ stance through the 20 years of insurgency in opposition to the earlier US-backed authorities. Past vaccination campaigns have been hampered in areas managed by Islamic State or the Taliban, with frontline employees being killed. The pandemic additionally prompted jabs to be paused.

“After consultation with the UN the government will start the polio vaccination campaign with both female and male workers and we will provide security to the entire polio vaccination team workers across the country,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid informed the Guardian.

In the previous three years there was a major rise in polio instances, and the hassle to eradicate the illness in Afghanistan is an escalating problem.

Attempts have additionally been made by clerics and tribal elders to debunk myths around polio vaccines prevalent among the many Taliban and IS.

In the previous, polio vaccination campaigns have been seen with suspicion, accused by a few of being utilized by foreigners to spy on insurgents or to undermine Islamic traditions. Some tribal leaders unfold the concept that the vaccine prompted infertility and polio employees have been targets of violence in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the final two international locations on the planet to have instances of the polio virus in youngsters, which might lead to paralysis and even demise. According to Unicef, 56 new cases of polio virus had been reported in Afghanistan final 12 months, the very best quantity since 2011.

“This decision will allow us to make a giant stride in the efforts to eradicate polio,” mentioned Hervé Ludovic De Lys, Unicef consultant in Afghanistan.

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