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Afghanistan makes progress toward polio eradication

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

One year on from Afghanistan’s transition of power in August 2021, the polio eradication programme in Afghanistan has made critical gains – but the job is far from finished.

Wild poliovirus transmission in Afghanistan is currently at its lowest level in history.

Fifty six children were paralysed by wild poliovirus in 2020. In 2021, the number fell to four. This year to date, only one child has been paralysed by the virus, giving the country an extraordinary opportunity to end polio, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.

The resumption of nationwide polio vaccination campaigns targeting 9.9 million children has been a critical step.

With access to the entire country following the August transition, seven nationwide vaccination campaigns took place between November 2021 and June 2022, and a sub national campaign targeting 6.7 million children in 28 provinces took place in July.

Of the 3.6 million children who had been inaccessible to the programme since 2018, 2.6 million were reached during the November, December and January campaigns.

With improving reach to previously inaccessible children during subsequent campaigns, the number of missed children has been reduced to 0.7 million.

Additional campaigns are planned for the remainder of the year.

With Afghanistan and Pakistan sharing one epidemiological block, the two countries continue to coordinate cross border activities. December and May’s campaigns were synchronized with Pakistan’s national campaigns, focusing on high-risk populations including nomadic groups, seasonal workers and communities straddling both borders, WHO reported.

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Uganda confirms at least 1 case of Ebola hemorrhagic fever

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2022)

Ugandan health authorities on Tuesday reported that a man who died a day earlier had tested positive for the virus that causes Ebola.

They said it’s still unknown how the man became infected with Ebola. He lived in the central Ugandan district of Mubende, about 150 kilometers west of the capital, Kampala, AP reported.

“We are right now gathering more information on the possible source of infection,” said the statement from the Ministry of Health, which referred to a potential new outbreak because six other people in the same area — including three children — died earlier in September after suffering what local officials had called a strange illness.

The confirmed Ebola victim was initially treated for other illnesses, including malaria and pneumonia, when he sought care in his hometown, the statement said.

Ebola, which is spread by contact with bodily fluids of an infected person or contaminated materials, manifests as a deadly hemorrhagic fever. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.

Uganda has had multiple Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2000 that killed hundreds.

Last month authorities in Congo said a new case of the Ebola virus in the eastern city of Beni was linked to a previous outbreak.

Congo’s 10th outbreak of Ebola in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri killed more than 2,000 people from 2018 to 2020. During that time, neighboring Uganda reported some cases that authorities said were linked to the outbreak in Congo.

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Nationwide polio vaccination campaign kicks off

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2022)

A nationwide polio vaccination campaign was launched in all provinces of the country on Monday, public health ministry officials said.

The campaign will run for four days and 9.9 million children under the age of five are expected to be vaccinated against the wild polio virus, the ministry said.

This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week that since August 2021, more than 86.7 million doses of polio vaccine have been administered to Afghan children.

The organization said on Wednesday that more than nine million children received this number of vaccines during eight vaccination campaigns across Afghanistan.

“Ending polio in Afghanistan brings us closer to a polio-free world. We won’t stop until it’s done,” WHO tweeted.

The World Health Organization has emphasized that since the beginning of this year, only one case of polio has been recorded in the country.

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Donation from Catalan Agency boosts WFP’s efforts to fight malnutrition

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2022)

The European Union’s Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD) has contributed EUR 290,000 to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) fund for acutely malnourished children and mothers across Afghanistan.

Thanks to this funding, more than 8,000 malnourished women and children in the areas of highest need will be supported with specialized nutritious foods for treatment of malnutrition by the end of the year, WFP reported.

“We are seeing the highest levels of moderate acute malnutrition ever recorded in Afghanistan. Today, 3.9 million children and 800,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP Representative and Country Director.

After one year of unprecedented economic hardship and environmental disasters like earthquakes and flooding, vulnerable families across the country have lost their livelihoods and largely exhausted their means to feed themselves.

Nearly 19 million people do not know where their next meal will come from and 6 million of them are facing Emergency levels of hunger and only one step away from famine.

“The record malnutrition rates we are seeing in Afghanistan go hand in hand with unprecedented levels of hunger. Life for most Afghans continues to be unbearably hard, particularly for women and girls,” said McGroarty.

“We thank Catalonia for this generous contribution that expresses solidarity and strong commitment to life-saving nutrition treatment for the women and children of Afghanistan,” she added.

Malnutrition in pregnancy can lead to many risks and complications, including stillbirths, low birthweights, and developmental delays. It can also become a cyclical pattern through generations, as problems at birth due to lack of essential nutrients can lead to lifelong consequences.

Between January and June 2022, WFP’s nutritional programmes reached over 690,000 malnourished children and over 435,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. WFP aims to reach more than 1 million children under the age of five and more than 500,000 pregnant and nursing women by the end of the year.

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