The Afghan Taliban launched its periodic polio inoculation crusade on Monday, aimed at reaching 9 million children in Afghanistan, according to the country’s health ministry. This is the second time in a row that the vaccination drive has taken place under Taliban rule. Afghanistan is facing an incorrigible and highly contagious complaint that can cause crippling palsy in young children. Polio has been almost completely eradicated through decades-long vaccination drives. However, instability, inaccessible terrain, mass relocation, and doubts about outside interference have hindered mass vaccination in Afghanistan.
Nek Wali Shah Momin, director of Afghanistan’s National Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for Polio Eradication, said that numerous areas could now be reached since the Taliban took over and fighting stopped. The EOC, which is led by the health ministry and includes transnational agencies such as the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s agency, is working on the crusade.
While the Taliban have recently banned numerous female NGO workers and prevented women from attending universities and high schools, female vaccinators are still working on the crusade. Women are pivotal in penetrating children who are frequently at home with their female caregivers, who are generally not comfortable interacting with male vaccinators. In areas where vaccination brigades must travel longer distances, authorities have needed female staff to have a male chaperone.
They have signed and trained male family members of the female vaccinators to join the brigades’ vaccination efforts.
In the past, some militant coalitions have targeted vaccination brigades. In 2022, some workers were killed in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban’s acting health minister Qalandar Ebad said, “The support of all Afghans, including parents, community leaders, ethnic elders, and religious leaders, is critical to annihilating polio, and we want them to take part in the fight.” Rana Jawad Asghar, an epidemiology expert and CEO of Pakistan-based consultancy Global Health Strategists and Device, said, “Religious leaders’ part in the polio elimination drive in both Pakistan and Afghanistan is pivotal.
This action of the Taliban in polio campaigns is a positive and major development.”
This polio crusade is aimed at reaching 9 million children in Afghanistan. Health is vitally important, and especially children are the leaders of the future, so their health is more important than anything else. Polio is an illness caused by a contagion that substantially affects nerves in the spinal cord or brain stem. It can cause a person to be unable to move certain limbs, also called palsy. It can also lead to breathing difficulties and occasionally death. Therefore, it is important to make good decisions before criticizing the polio campaign.