Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

  • Afghanistan reported only one case of wild poliovirus last year and the vaccine drive also presents an opportunity to totally eradicate the illness from the country.

State of play: "WHO and UNICEF welcome the decision by the Taliban leadership supporting the resumption of house-to-house polio vaccination across Afghanistan," UNICEF said in a statement.

  • The campaign will also reach more than 3.3 million children in parts of Afghanistan that have previously been inaccessible to vaccination campaigns, according to UNICEF.
  • Babies aged 6 months to 59 months will also receive supplementary doses of vitamin A, per the WHO.
  • The Taliban has also authorized a second polio vaccination campaign, to take place in conjunction with Pakistan's national immunization drive in December.

The big picture: In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban takeover, Afghanistan is on the precipice of a humanitarian crisis.

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