AFGHANISTAN: Over 300,000 immunised against
tetanus, measles in Kabul
KABUL, 4 June 2007 (IRIN) - Over 300,000 mothers,
15-50 years old, and a similar number of children
between nine months and five years of age, have been
successfully vaccinated against tetanus and measles in
Kabul, the country’s Ministry of Public Health has
Part of larger efforts launched on 20 May in 12
provinces, the six-day campaign was later extended
until 2 June in Kabul in a further effort to reach a
targeted number of women and children.
“There were some logistical shortcomings, coupled
with shortages of professional staff that demanded the
drive’s extension,” Dr Bismillah Aziz, a World Health
Organization (WHO) official in Afghanistan, explained.
According to preliminary results, 60-70 percent of
eligible women were vaccinated against tetanus, while
up to 85 percent of children were vaccinated against
measles, Aziz added.
Some 3,500 medical staff conducted the final round
of the national campaign in door-to-door visits and at
community centres such as mosques, a WHO press release
The UN had sought media assistance to bolster
public information efforts and encourage parents to
vaccinate eligible women and children after
vaccinators faced unexpected refusals from many Afghan
families in Kabul.
“Some women do not know about the advantages of
these vaccines to their own and their children’s
health and safety which caused a kind of negligence
towards this campaign,” Abdullah Fahim, a spokesman
for the Afghan Ministry of Health, said.
But despite the refusals, Kabul was still being
viewed as a success amongst the 34 provinces of the
country, where vaccination campaigns have often been
plagued by problems.
“In the tetanus and measles immunisation campaign
conducted in Helmand three months ago, only 50 percent
of eligible mothers and 85 percent of children were
vaccinated,” Mohammad Qaseem, an official of the
southern province’s public health department, said.
“Afghan women, particularly in rural areas, suffer
a series of socio-traditional restrictions in
appearing before male doctors. We could not find
adequate female vaccinators in order to reach all the
women in Helmand,” Qaseem conceded.
In the neighbouring province of Kandahar, the
vaccination effort reached only 55 percent of women
and 75 percent of children, according to provincial
“Insecurity, a lack of public information, a
shortage of professional medical personnel and harmful
propaganda by insurgents are the problems that have
affected our efforts in some parts of the country,”
the Ministry of Health spokesman said.
In the volatile southern provinces of the country,
Taliban insurgents have repeatedly attacked health
facilities and even kidnapped health workers, thus
impeding the delivery of health services to many rural
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