Afghanistan launches polio prevention campaign
Afghanistan has launched an anti-polio campaign in different areas across the militancy-ridden country except Kandahar Province as a result of security threats posed by Taliban militants.
Afghan officials at the Ministry of Public Health announced on Sunday that the three-day campaign had started, with some 7,000 health workers and volunteers taking part.
The ministry said about nine million Afghan children up to five years of age across 33 of the country’s 34 provinces would receive polio prevention drops.
The Taliban had imposed a ban on vaccination in Kandahar several months ago, said the ministry, adding a polio drive in Kandahar would be followed after security training.
About eight million children from the ages of six months to five years will also receive Vitamin B during the campaign.
This comes despite a statement released by the militant group earlier this year, in which the Taliban voiced support for anti-polio drops and the vaccination of children in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
Polio prevention workers have been targeted by Taliban militants in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan in recent years.
In Pakistan, pro-Taliban militants strongly oppose anti-polio programs and have ordered a ban on the campaign. The militants claim they are a cover-up for US espionage activities.
The region is fighting a polio epidemic, which is infecting hundreds of people every year.