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‘World Immunization Week’ launched in Afghanistan

‘World Immunization Week’ launched in Afghanistan

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On
Apr 23, 2017 - 16:15

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The yearly ‘Worldinfo-icon Immunization Week’ campaign was launched on Sunday in Afghanistaninfo-icon to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination.

The Ministry of Public Healthinfo-icon, World Health Organization and UNICEF together launched the campaign with national and international partners supporting immunization services in the country.

Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions preventing illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza, pneumonia, tetanus and measles.

 “Immunization is the right of every child. We must accelerate our efforts to ensure all children all over the country are vaccinated and protected from diseases”, Public Health Minister Dr Ferozuddin Feroz was quoted as saying a statement issued by his ministry.

Dr Feroz said strengthening Afghanistan’s routine immunization system was among the Public Health Ministry’s top priorities.

“Through immunization we can protect children from traditional vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and also pneumonia, a major killer of children under 5 years of age.”

Afghanistan’s overall immunization coverage remains low with disparities throughout the regions.

Vaccination can avert more than one third of under-five deaths but based on estimated routine immunization coverage, around 1 in 6 children still lack access to vaccines.

Afghanistan’s under-five mortality rate remains among the highest in the world at 55 per 1,000 live births.

“Vaccines work to fight diseases, to protect individuals and communities and to save lives. We must make sure that routine immunization services reach all Afghans, no matter where they live,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Country Representative.

 “We need to significantly step up our efforts to achieve universal access to immunization in order to improve child health and drive sustainable development in Afghanistan.”

Ms Adele Khodr, UNICEF Country Representative, said immunization was one of the most cost-effective public health interventions that saved children’s lives and contributed to building a better future for Afghanistan.

 “We must reach all children with quality vaccines and intensify our efforts to reach the unreached children who are in greatest need and most vulnerable.”

Mortality due to vaccine-preventable diseases has decreased in the past decade due to the government’s immunization efforts supported by local and international partners.

In the past year, the number of health centres providing immunization services increased by 12 per cent, now including 1,767 facilities around the country.

Currently 10 antigens are included in Afghanistan’s routine immunization programme, available free of charge. In recent years, Afghanistan has successfully introduced new vaccines, including the Pentavalent vaccine protecting people from five deadly diseases and the Pneumococcal vaccine to fight pneumonia.

Afghanistan has seen major progress in efforts to eradicate polio in recent years and most of the country remains polio-free.

In 2016, 13 polio cases were reported, compared to 20 in 2015. Three polio cases have been reported so far in 2017 from Kandahar, Helmand and Kunduz provinces.

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