Some 5.36 million Afghan children between the ages of nine and 59 months were vaccinated against measles from November 26 to December 12, and another 6.1 million under the age of five received the oral polio vaccine during a national vaccination campaign.
The have launched a nationwide campaign to vaccinate millions of children against polio, a move that in the past has met with resistance and even violence.
According to data from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health’s Expanded Program on Immunization, the campaign covered 329 districts in the country’s 34 provinces. There were 4,341 vaccination teams with four members in each team.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the first national integrated campaign against measles and poliomyelitis in Afghanistan since the arrival of the Taliban in August 2021.
“It warms my heart that we have been able to protect Afghan children against measles and polio as we enter the country’s harsh winter season,” said WHO Representative in Afghanistan Luo Dapeng.
According to media reports, Kabul is on the verge of becoming a polio-free country as so far this year only two polio cases have been recorded compared to four in 2021.
In addition, numerous measles outbreaks have been reported in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year. In November 2022, Afghanistan confirmed 5,484 measles cases with approximately 300 deaths attributed to measles infection.
For the WHO, the benefits of vaccination are clear, as evidence shows that measles vaccination has saved more than 23 million lives worldwide over the past 20 years.
“While measles is highly contagious, it is also a preventable disease.
We must not lose the decades of progress we have made in vaccinating and protecting Afghan children. The measles vaccine is safe and has been used for over 50 years,” said Dr Dapeng.