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EU provides extra $41 million for polio vaccines, child protection in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2022)

The European Union announced this week that it will provide an additional $26 million for polio vaccines and another $15.6 million for child protection in Afghanistan. 

According to a statement issued by the EU, the funding for child protection will specifically be aimed at caring for migrant children at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. 

As Afghanistan’s economic and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, children across the country face violence and other threats to their safety, forcing them to make desperate decisions in order to survive, the EU’s statement read. 

Many children and young people feel forced into labor, and some choose to take the risky journey out of Afghanistan. Last year, 88 percent of households had at least one child working outside the home under difficult conditions, the EU stated.

“The dangerous journey for children across borders, especially when traversed alone, places these migrant children at risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse,” says Andreas von Brandt, EU Ambassador to Afghanistan. 

“That is why the EU is contributing an additional €15 million to UNICEF, to help identify boys and girls returning to Afghanistan who need help, and children at risk of migration, and give them options other than migration or labor.”

This money, provided as a continuation of EU support since 2018, will allow UNICEF to:

Provide psychosocial support to 18,000 unaccompanied minors, trace their families, ensure they are reunified and support them to reintegrate into their communities.

Provide vocational training, small business start-up or apprenticeships for 7,500 children and 500 adults.

Provide cash-based assistance to over 4,600 households most in need.

Reach out to over 230,000 community members to discuss the dangers of child migration and how it can be prevented or addressed.

Reach out to 140,000 men and women on preventing gender-based violence.

In addition, EU has contributed a combined $26 million to UNICEF and the World Health Organization to support polio vaccination campaigns across the country, especially at borders where children may be transiting.

“Afghanistan is one of the two remaining polio endemic countries in the world, and transmission often occurs when children move from Afghanistan to Pakistan and back, causing them to miss their regular vaccination appointments,” says Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan. 

“These funds will allow UNICEF and WHO to strengthen polio vaccination efforts to ensure all children in the country, and those crossing transit points, are vaccinated against polio.”

Health

Pakistani doctors treat 3,764 Afghan patients at free eye clinic in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

A team of Pakistani ophthalmologists examined a total of 3,764 Afghan patients at a four-day free eye clinic at Noor Hospital in Kabul this past week.

The free clinic was organized by an 11-member team of Pakistani doctors in collaboration with the Pak-Afghan Cooperation Forum, Al Khidmat Foundation, and Afghan Ministry of Public Health.

The Pakistani doctors performed a total of 516 surgeries. These included 482 cataract surgeries, 22 oculoplastic surgeries and 12 vitreoretinal surgeries.

Dr. Zahir Gul Zadran, head of Noor Hospital, thanked the organizers for their support and said: “These doctors have also brought medical equipment to this hospital for the treatment of patients, the value of which is about Rs 2.4 million lakhs ($10 million).

Zadran said this was the second time that these doctors visited Noor Hospital to treat Afghan patients.

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New Langya virus infects 35 people in China

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

A new virus, which can be transmitted to humans from animals, has infected 35 people in Shandong and Henan provinces, according to a study by scientists from China, Singapore and Australia published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

So far, there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The Henipavirus (also called Langya henipavirus or LayV) was first detected in late 2018 but was only formally identified by scientists last week, the Guardian reported.

It was discovered  thanks to an early detection system for feverish people with a recent history of exposure to animals, Bloomberg reported.

The virus was found after throat swabs were taken from the patients who were mostly farmers.

The virus is entirely novel, meaning it has not infected humans before.

But two viruses from the same family had been identified previously – the Hendra virus and Nipah virus. Both can cause severe and sometimes fatal illnesses. There are no vaccines or treatments, The Sun reported.

So far, the cases have not been fatal or very serious, so there is no need for panic, said Professor Wang Linfa from the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore who was involved in the study.

He added that it is still a cause for alarm as many viruses that exist in nature have unpredictable results when they infect humans.

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Health

Italy kicks off vaccination campaign against monkeypox

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2022)

Italy launched its vaccination campaign against monkeypox on Monday, as case numbers increased at a time when health authorities are reporting vaccine shortages worldwide, Reuters reported.

Italy has reported 545 cases of monkeypox, according to the health ministry. Its vaccination campaign started more than a month after other countries that have seen higher numbers of cases, including the United States, Britain and Spain.

The first doses will be given at the Spallanzani hospital in Rome, the hospital said in a statement.

The vaccine used will be Jynneos (MVA-BN), a smallpox vaccine made by Bavarian Nordic and approved by the European Medicines Agency for protection against monkeypox, the hospital said.

On Thursday, vaccinations will also begin in Italy’s financial capital, Milan.

Monkeypox is spread chiefly by close contact, causes pus-filled sores and flu-like symptoms, and is rarely fatal. There have now been 26,500 cases worldwide outside the countries where it usually spreads, according to a Reuters tracker.

In July, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern”, its highest alert level.

The first case in Italy was recorded on May 20, 2022. There are no current plans for mass vaccinations.

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