1.2m Afghan Children to be Vaccinated against Measles in 24 Provinces

The World Health Organization (WHO) has started a mass anti-measles campaign in Afghanistan to vaccinate 1.2 Afghan children amid a sharp rise in life-threatening disease for children across the country.

WHO in a statement on Monday said that over 1.2 million children aged 6–59 months are planned to get vaccinated during the week-long Mar.12–17 campaign.

“Around 9200 health workers, volunteers, supervisors, and monitors are mobilized to cover 49 districts in 24 provinces,” it added.

WHO in Afghanistan said it is supporting the Ministry of Public Health and provincial health authorities in the management of the vaccination, including technical advice, training of staff, funding for training, costs for operation as well as with the provision of supplies and logistics. 

“This measles immunization campaign is part of the national response measure to stop the spread of the outbreak, save lives of the young children and reduce the burden on health systems”, says Dr. Luo Dapeng, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.

Dapeng called on the Afghan parents to bring their kids for vaccination and give them the best gift of being protected from life-threatening but preventable diseases. “I also appeal to everyone to protect the health workers; they are protecting your children and it is your duty to ensure their safety,” Dapeng added.

Afghanistan has been experiencing a measles resurgence that started at the beginning of 2021. From January 2021 to 13 March 2022, there have been 48,366 cases and 250 deaths. In 2022 alone, there have been over 18,000 cases and 142 children have died of measles in the country, the statement added.

“The rise in measles cases in Afghanistan is especially concerning because of the extremely high levels of malnutrition. Malnutrition weakens immunity, making people more vulnerable to illness and death from diseases like measles, especially children,” added Dapeng.

The WHO said the best way to protect people, especially children from measles, is to strengthen routine immunization to ensure that at least 95% of their population has received two doses of the vaccine.

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