A new step in fighting polio virus
Afghanistan is the first country to use a new
vaccine during sub-national immunization campaign Dec
Source: Government of the Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan; United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF);
World Health Organization (WHO)
"One single shot of vaccine to protect children
from two strains of Polio"
Kabul 14 December 2009 – Afghanistan is the first
country ever, to use bivalent oral polio vaccine
during the Sub National Immunization Campaign, 15 –
17, December 2009, targeting a total of 2.8 million
Children less than 5 years of age in the South,
Southeast and Eastern regions and Farah province
(Western Region) of the country. Four million doses of
bivalent vaccine are being procured by UNICEF with the
financial support of the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA).
The use of bivalent Oral Polio vaccine (bOPV) in
house to house mass vaccination campaigns constitutes
an important and powerful tool to achieve the target
of Polio eradication globally. The new vaccine is much
more effective than the trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine
which is currently being used by the program.
"Use of bivalent OPV will certainly add a new
dimension to our Polio eradication efforts in
effectively eradicating P1 and P3 virus strains, which
are circulating in Afghanistan, and will complement
the use of trivalent OPV and monovalent OPV" said
representatives of WHO and UNICEF.
In Afghanistan, the Expanded Program on
Immunization (EPI) management team, which is led by
the Afghan Ministry of Public Health with the
partnership of UNICEF and WHO, agreed to use the new
vaccine in the four National and eight sub-national
immunization campaigns (NID/SNID) planned for 2010.
In areas like Afghanistan, where the wild polio
virus types 1 and 3 co-exist, bivalent OPV will
accelerate the interruption of both serotypes
simultaneously. The introduction of this new vaccine
will allow the managers to rationalize the number of
Polio Campaigns, while concentrating on campaign
quality to ensure high levels of vaccination coverage
among the communities and reach every single child
under five years.
To ensure that all children under five years old in
the selected districts are reached, 21,000 health
workers will go from house to house in 14 provinces.
As many families are unable to access health
facilities in the rural parts of Afghanistan this
approach is essential to ensure that every child in
the target group is reached. In parallel a massive
social mobilisation campaign is being conducted to
orient and motivate parents in the target communities
about the immunization drive.
Six rounds of nation-wide house to house
vaccination campaign, targeting almost 7.5 million
children, have been implemented in 2009. In addition
four rounds of sub-national campaigns were conducted
for South, Southeast and Eastern regions and Farah
province (western region) to stop and prevent the
virus from spreading to other parts of the country. As
of December 1, 2009 Afghanistan has reported 31
confirmed cases of Poliomyelitis, mostly concentrated
in the southern region.
The ever deteriorating security situation is
limiting access to many children in conflict-ridden
areas. Over 100,000 children could consistently not be
reached by the vaccination teams during the last
several campaigns. With continued population movements
from polio endemic areas to polio free areas and
vice-versa, the eradication of polio remains
challenging. The new bivalent vaccine will be a vital
tool in the fight against this crippling disease.
For more information, please contact:
UNICEF Kabul, Farida Ayari; firstname.lastname@example.org; +93
(0) 798 50 7110
WHO Kabul, Dr Arshad Quddus, email@example.com
; +93 (0) 700 252 650
Ministry of Public Health, Dr Ahmad Farid Raaid,
+93(0) 799 00 27 93