KABUL (Pajhwok): The first round of a nationwide anti-polio campaign was launched on Sunday, targeting 9.9 million children below five years of age, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said.
The MoPH in a statement said it launched the five-day campaign in cooperation with UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO).
The ministry said there was a significant reduction in efforts for elimination of polio disease in the country.
It said children immunity against the disease was low as vaccination campaigns faced challenges in specific regions of the country.
Lack of vaccination is considered a major cause of low children immunity against polio in majority areas of the country – a matter persisting for nearly past three years.
The ministry also said the Covid-19 spread delayed polio vaccination campaigns for six months in 2020, depriving children of the vaccine and increasing positive cases.
Earlier clashes between government and insurgent groups led to the stoppage of door to door vaccinations.
MoPH said total polio positive cases reached 56 in 2020 and 75pc of these cases happened in rural areas. But the ministry said no polio case has been reported in 2021 in the country.
MoPH claimed it was committed to eliminating polio in the country and had proved its commitment to implementing vaccination campaigns despite Covid-19 challenges in 2020.
Ministry officials urged parents to actively participate in the polio campaign and not hesitate from vaccinating their children under the age of five years.
The ministry said polio vaccine was secure and had been approved by national and international religious scholars. The ministry emphasized that administering multiple doses of the vaccine was the only efficient way to prevent the virus from spreading.
The statement said the polio elimination program in Afghanistan was still concerning as around 3.3m children were deprived of the vaccine due to hurdles created to the door to door campaign.