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Afghanistan Launches First Polio Vaccination Campaign of the Year

Afghanistan Launches First Polio Vaccination Campaign of the Year

Afghanistan has launched a nationwide campaign to administer the polio vaccine to nearly 10 million children under the age of five, the country's Ministry of Public Health announced.

Some 65,000 health workers will implement the campaign over a five-day period, a public relations officer for the anti-polio campaign, Mir Jan Rasikh, told the DPA news agency on Monday.

Last year, 3.4 million children were deprived of the vaccine across the war-torn country. As a result, at least 56 Afghan children contracted the crippling disease, according to officials.

The Taliban armed group does not allow health workers in areas under its control to conduct door-to-door campaigns.

The group's fighters claim that in the past, the campaign had been used to gather intelligence information in some provinces.

On Sunday, the deputy leader of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met with officials from the World Health Organization and UNICEF for South Asia in Qatar, where they discussed vaccination against polio and other communicable diseases, announced the group.

It was unclear whether the Taliban fighters had agreed to allow a door-to-door campaign in the areas under their control.

Authorities warn that lack of access would again deprive some 3 million children of the vaccine.

The deadly virus has been eradicated from the rest of the world, but it is still prevalent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have launched a similar campaign.

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