UN agencies say nationwide polio vaccination drive will start in Afghanistan from November 8.

UN campaign aims to vaccinate 9.9 million children under five in the war-torn Afghanistan.
UN campaign aims to vaccinate 9.9 million children under five in the war-torn Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Afghanistan will kick off its first countrywide polio immunisation campaign in years next month to protect millions of unvaccinated children.

The United Nations' health and children's agencies said on Monday that the campaign to vaccinate against the crippling and potentially fatal disease would begin on November 8, with full support from the Taliban leadership.

"WHO and UNICEF welcome the decision by the Taliban leadership supporting the resumption of house-to-house polio vaccination across Afghanistan," they said in a statement.

Since the Taliban swept back into power two months ago, the UN had been talking with the group's leadership to address the towering health challenges in the country, the statement said.

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Female workers

"The Taliban leadership has expressed their commitment for the inclusion of female frontline workers," it said.

Afghanistan's new rulers had also committed to "providing security and assuring the safety of all health workers across the country, which is an essential prerequisite for the implementation of polio vaccination campaigns," the agencies said.

Due in large part to Taliban opposition to door-to-door vaccination campaigns, which they suspected were being used to spy on their activities, no campaigns with countrywide reach have been carried out in over three years.

The UN agencies said next month's campaign would aim to reach 9.9 million children under five - more than a third of them in regions that had long been inaccessible to vaccinators.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies