August 6th, 2007 08:41 EST
Afghanistan: UN agencies help in nationwide polio vaccination campaign
United Nations agencies are helping Afghanistan’s Health Ministry carry out a new nationwide polio vaccination this week, which aims eventually to protect over 7 million children under the age of five from the highly infectious, often paralyzing and sometimes fatal disease.
“As you know we are on the verge of eliminating polio from Afghanistan, but we need the cooperation of local communities to ensure we achieve this,” UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Outreach Officer Nazifullah Salarzai told a news briefing in Kabul, the capital, today.
“UNAMA calls on all parents and communities to cooperate with this vital initiative as we all work hard to prevent polio blighting the lives of Afghanistan’s children,” he added.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) have been working with the Health Ministry on the campaign, which includes a social mobilization plan to help with the distribution of the vaccinations at provincial and district levels. The campaign will continue across the country, every month, until all children receive the necessary immunization.
In another development, cereal production has more than doubled in the six years since United States-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in 2001, pushing the strife-torn country close to self-sufficiency, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.
This year’s crop is forecast to reach 4.6 million tons, an increase of 700,000 tons over last year, but 700,000 tons less than the 1005 harvest of 5.3 million tons. Afghanistan will still need to import 700,000 tons of cereal for the 2007/2008 season, but this contrasts with 1.7 million tons imported at the start of the decade, FAO said.