Monday, 19 June 2017

Italy contributes with EUR 2.5 million to fight polio in Afghanistan

The Italian Cooperation has contributed with 2.5 million euros to the polio eradication program in Afghanistan. This contribution is going to the United Nations specialized agencies, WHO and UNICEF, that are collaborating with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and other international partners for the implementation of the “National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication 2016-2017” aiming at interrupting the disease transmission in Afghanistan. Polio eradication is one of the most important public healthcare priorities at the global level and it is internationally supported by GPEI (Global Polio Eradication Initiative). The goal of polio eradication has never been closer: in 2016 only 36 cases were registered in 3 countries worldwide. Afghanistan, with 13 cases reported along with Pakistan and Nigeria, is one of them. And it is in Afghanistan that the program has made significant progress in 2016, thanks to the strengthening of the operational structures, the increasing of the vaccination coverage in the provinces and the improvement of the epidemiological surveillance. Thanks to these interventions, there are only 3 cases registered in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2017. The Italian contribution is essentially aimed at strengthening the vaccination campaign. On May 15, 2017, the Minister of Public Health launched a "National Day of Vaccination" with the goal of reaching 9.5 million children. Sixty-seven thousands volunteers took part in the campaign, carrying out door-to-door vaccinations in remote areas. At the same time, the routine vaccination activities continued, with about 52,000 operators mobilized in border areas with Pakistan where the movement of IDP (Internally Displaced People) and refugees poses a serious risk of spreading the disease. The Italian contribution supports also the community awareness campaigns in hard to reach areas where for security and socio-cultural reasons the immunization coverage remains low.