Press Release: Ministry urges vaccination as 14th polio case is confirmed


Kabul, 18 September 2018 – A new polio case has been reported in Kandahar. A 14-month-old boy from Loyawala will be permanently paralysed by polio. This is the 14th case in Afghanistan, and the 9th case in the southern region.

The Minister of Public Health Dr Ferozuddin Feroz expressed concern that Afghanistan now has the highest number of polio cases in the world: “Another young boy has been needlessly paralysed by polio in Kandahar.  This should never have happened. Polio is serious and has lifelong consequences, but the virus can be eliminated from our country. The only way to do this is to repeatedly vaccinate every child. I urge parents to learn the facts about the vaccine and ensure their child is protected from permanent paralysis.”

Next Monday, polio vaccination teams will visit 6.4 million children under the age of five in 27 high-risk provinces, mainly in Kandahar and Nangarhar. This follows several new cases in both regions.

The vaccination campaign will take place from 24 - 28 September 2018.  Parents should ensure their children are home and available to be vaccinated.  All children under five should receive the polio vaccine, including newborns, sleeping, sick, and visiting children.  Children who miss the vaccination should visit their local health centre as soon as possible, where the vaccine is available free of charge. The polio vaccine is safe, even for sick and newborn children. It is very important these children get the vaccine, because they have lower immunity which makes them more susceptible to the virus. Repeated vaccination is very important for children because it builds their immunity to the virus.

Polio is a crippling and a potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure and the polio vaccine is the only safe and effective way to protect children. All children should be vaccinated against polio during each campaign, until they reach the age of five. House-to-house vaccination is the only way to achieve polio eradication because it means every child has access to vaccination. This strategy has been implemented in all countries that have managed to eradicate the virus.

Currently, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only three remaining polio-endemic countries in the world.  

The Ministry of Public Health urges parents and caregivers to ensure no child misses the vaccine, as this is the only protection from polio and permanent paralysis.

For more information:

Merjan Rasekh

Emergency Operation Center Spokesperson

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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Addressing the escalating burden of noncommunicable diseases in Afghanistan


28 August 2018, Kabul – Dr Sadiq is examining the feet of his colleague Mr Dauod. This is the first time they are learning to look for changes to the feet of diabetic patients. Dr Sadiq and Dauod came from the primary health care centre in Kandahar, they are taking turns to learn how to check for diabetic foot that would require medical intervention.

This was a part of a 4-day training for 26 health care professionals from Afghanistan. The training aims to helpmedical staff understand and use medicines and equipment for the management of key noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and raise awareness of NCDs and the importance of managing them in Afghanistan.

Today in Afghanistan, NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes are responsible for almost 33.3% of all deaths in the country, similar or exceeding the number of deaths caused by war-related trauma injuries.

“Our WHO Regional Office has developed a NCD emergency kit, which is designed to support the implementation of NCD management in countries like Afghanistan where NCD care is not covered yet in public health facilities,” says Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Representative in Afghanistan, in his opening speech at the training. “We are happy to collaborate with the Afghan Red Crescent Society to pilot this training using the NCD emergency kit, and we hope that the Ministry of Public Health will integrate NCD management into public health service packages in the future.”

Key medical staff from primary health care centres run by the Afghan Red Crescent Society in Herat, Kunduz, Kandahar and Nangarhar travelled to Kabul for this pilot training as the NCD emergency kits will soon be deployed to their centres.

The training was conducted by Dr Sarah Montgomery and Dr Peter Le Feuvre, family physicians and clinical directors from Primary Care International (PCI), United Kingdom. With a mixture of presentations, role plays and case discussions, the trainees learnt about hypertension, type 2 diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and secondary prevention. Trainees also participated in a session on communication and consultation skills with a focus on motivational interviewing techniques.


“We are surprised and impressed by how much the participants are engaging with us. As the days go by, I can see that they are really hungry to learn,” says Dr Montgomery, “some of the participants were practising what they learnt over and over to make sure that they get it and there’s no misunderstanding.”

“WHO is planning to send required number of NCD emergency kits to selected Afghan Red Crescent Societ-managed primary health care centres where this initiative will be piloted during 2018–2019, we will also mobilize more resources to sustain this support,” said Dr Supriya Warusavithana, WHO NCD programme manager in Afghanistan.

Such training programmes were conducted before for Gaziantep and Syria to ensure the continuation of NCD management for populations affected by complex emergencies. PCI is supporting WHO to deliver NCD training programmes for primary health care staff in the Region in order to optimize the use of the emergency kits, PCI is also developing a set of tools for monitoring the implementation of the NCD kits once they roll out to provinces.

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  • Press Release: Ministry urges vaccination as 14th polio case is confirmed
    Press Release: Ministry urges vaccination as 14th polio case is confirmed
  • Addressing the escalating burden of noncommunicable diseases in Afghanistan
    Addressing the escalating burden of noncommunicable diseases in Afghanistan


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Key health-related statistics

Population (m) 31,5
Health expenditure (% of GDP) 9.5
Adult (15+) literacy rate (%) 34.3
Life expectancy at birth F/M (2010) 62-64

Sources: Central Statistics office, Afghanistan National health Accounts, Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey, Afghanistan mortality survey. 

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