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Nationwide polio vaccination campaign aims to reach over 9.9 million children

Kabul, 5 August 2018 – The Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan, together with UNICEF and WHO, will launch its third national polio vaccination campaign for 2018. Over the next five days, around 9.9 million children under the age of five will be targeted for vaccination against polio across the country.

However, 1.2 million children from areas inaccessible to vaccination teams will miss the vaccine. These children will not be protected from the polio virus. The main provinces affected are Kandahar (117,640 children), Helmand (541,839 children), Urozgan (119,406 children) and Zabul (146,513 children). The polio programme continues to look for ways to reach these children to protect them from permanent paralysis due to polio. 

The nationwide campaign will be supplemented with vitamin A capsules, given to over 8.9 million children aged between six months to five years. Vitamin A helps to build a child’s immunity and reduces the risk of diarrhea, respiratory infections and measles. Vitamin A supplements can improve a child’s chance of survival by 12 to 24 per cent.

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Health worker casualties increasing in Afghanistan

Kabul, 2 August 2018 - In Afghanistan, an increasing amount of health workers have been killed in attacks targeting health facilities and personnel in the first half of 2018, compared to the previous six months, reports Health Cluster. A total number of seven health personnel were killed January and June this year, compared to three who were killed between April and December 2017.

The health facility in Nika district, Paktika, that was destroyed in an aerial attack in March, 2018The health facility in Nika district, Paktika, that was destroyed in an aerial attack in March, 2018

Afghanistan has the third highest incidence rate of attacks against health facilities and health workers in the world, behind Syria and Palestine. Between January and June 2018, the Health Cluster registered a total of 54 incidents against health workers and facilities.

Amongst all the attacks on aid workers and humanitarian infrastructure, health workers and facilities are most affected.  A record high of 37 health personnel on duty were detained in past six months.

“Attacks on health workers and facilities are becoming more deliberate and violent. Health personnel in Afghanistan are frequently being harassed, detained, kidnapped or in the worst case killed,” Health Cluster coordinator Dr David Lai comments.

WHO representative Dr Richard Peeperkorn expressed his concern over the trend. “All parties to the conflict must respect the inviolability of health facilities and personnel”, he stated. “Humanitarian and health workers should never be a target”.

Related Links

Infographic from the Health Clucter in Afghanistan on attacks on health

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  • Nationwide polio vaccination campaign aims to reach over 9.9 million children
  • Health worker casualties increasing in Afghanistan
    Health worker casualties increasing 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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