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Afghanistan To Launch Landmark Polio Vaccination Drive Nationwide

A polio worker administers the vaccine to an Afghan boy in Herat in March.

A polio vaccination drive across Afghanistan, the first of its kind in years, is scheduled to be launched on November 8, the United Nations Children’s Fund announced.

"Vaccinate your #children against polio and protect their future!" the UN agency urged families in Afghanistan via Twitter on November 7.

UNICEF and another UN agency, the World Health Organization (WHO), announced last month that the Taliban leadership had given its support to resuming house-to-house polio vaccination across Afghanistan.

The nationwide vaccination campaign was negotiated with the Taliban leadership by the WHO and UNICEF, but security concerns still exist as polio vaccination teams have been attacked in the country in the past.

The Taliban in the past accused polio vaccination teams of gathering intelligence on their militants, but they are now the de facto government of Afghanistan after toppling the internationally backed Kabul government in August.

The inoculation campaign "will be the first in over three years to reach all children in Afghanistan, including more than 3.3 million children in some parts of the country who have previously remained inaccessible to vaccination campaigns," the WHO and UNICEF said in a statement on October 18.

Health officials say the drive aims to cover nearly 10 million children under the age of 5 against the virus, which can cause paralysis and death.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are among only a few countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

With reporting by dpa
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