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WHO, UNICEF launch Afghan polio vaccine campaign with IEA backing

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(Last Updated On: November 9, 2021)

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations children’s agency launched a polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan on Monday, the first nationwide campaign to fight the disease in three years.

Naikwali Shah Momim, the National Emergency Operations Coordinator for the polio program at Afghanistan’s health ministry, told Reuters the campaign had started in various parts of the country on Monday, but added there were several hurdles around a shortage of trained staff.

“We have not received the polio medicines on time, and most of the families refuse to vaccinate their kids because there are some rumors that this polio vaccine may harm their children. These are the issues we are facing,” said Hassibullah Qaderi, who is working with the polio vaccine campaign.

The campaign, which aims to reach over 3 million children, had received Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) backing, which would allow teams to reach children in previously inaccessible parts of the country, the WHO said.

Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the last countries in the world with endemic polio, an incurable and highly infectious disease transmitted through sewage that can cause crippling paralysis in young children.

Polio has been virtually eliminated globally through a decades-long inoculation drive. But insecurity, inaccessible terrain, mass displacement and suspicion of outside interference have hampered mass vaccination in Afghanistan and some areas of Pakistan.

Several polio workers have been killed by gunmen in eastern Afghanistan this year, though it was not clear who was behind the attacks.

According to WHO figures compiled before the collapse of the Western-backed government in August, there was one reported case of the one wild poliovirus type 1 in Afghanistan in 2021, compared with 56 in 2020.

Until the disease is eliminated completely, it remains a threat to human health in all countries, especially those with vulnerable health systems because of the risk of importing the disease, according to health experts.

Health

EU signs deal with Bavarian Nordic for delivery of monkeypox vaccine

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2022)

The European Commission on Tuesday said it had signed a deal with Danish biotech firm Bavarian Nordic (BAVA.CO) for the delivery of around 110,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine.

The agreement marks the first time that the EU budget is used for the direct purchase of vaccines and would make the shots rapidly available to all EU member states, Norway and Iceland, the commission said.

Around 900 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 19 EU countries, Norway and Iceland since May 18.

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Research finds ‘alarming’ levels of chemicals in male urine samples

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(Last Updated On: June 13, 2022)

A study of urine samples from nearly 100 male volunteers has uncovered “alarming” levels of endocrine disruptors known to reduce human fertility.

Cocktails of chemicals such as bisphenols and dioxins, which are believed to interfere with hormones and affect sperm quality, were present at levels up to 100 times those considered safe, scientists have found.

The median exposure to these chemicals was 17 times the levels deemed acceptable.

“Our mixture risk assessment of chemicals which affect male reproductive health reveals alarming exceedances of acceptable combined exposures,” wrote the authors of the study, published on Thursday in the journal Environment International.

The study measured nine chemicals, including bisphenol, phthalates and paracetamol, in urine samples from 98 Danish men aged 18 to 30.

The study authors, led by Professor Andreas Kortenkamp of Brunel University London, said they were “astonished” by the magnitude of this hazard index in the volunteers studied, Euronews reported.

Sperm quantity and quality have dramatically declined across Western countries in recent decades, with research suggesting sperm counts have been more than halved in the space of 40 years.

Meanwhile, other reproductive health disorders have been on the rise, such as non-descending testes and testicular cancer.

Scientists around the world have considered a range of other possible causes behind falling sperm counts, including lifestyle factors, tobacco consumption and air pollution.

But recent studies have increasingly zeroed in on the role played by chemicals, Euronews reported.

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Health ministry records massive spike in malnourished patients

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(Last Updated On: June 7, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) public health ministry said 820,000 people, including mothers and children, have sought treatment for malnutrition so far this year.

According to a video message by Javid Hajir, a spokesman for the ministry, 570,000 of them were children under the age of five.

Hajir added that during this period, about 381,000 cases of severe malnutrition and 189,000 cases of moderate malnutrition have been registered throughout the country.

He said their survey showed that 3.8 million children under the age of five were currently suffering from malnutrition in Afghanistan, of which about 1 million had severe malnutrition and about 2.8 million of these children suffer from moderate malnutrition.

According to a VOA report, the public health ministry said more than 360 malnourished children had died in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year.

There are currently more than 2,400 health centers across Afghanistan for the treatment of malnourished patients.

“Also, 120 of our central, provincial and district hospitals have been set up to provide inpatient services to these patients. At present, 12,400 inpatients are currently with us,” Hajir said.

Two days ago, a senior official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Afghanistan expressed concern that with each passing day, the incidence of malnutrition among children in the country is increasing.

Mohamed Ag Ayoya, from UNICEF Afghanistan, tweeted that he and a director of the fund had visited a number of hospitals in Kabul and Parwan province to review the treatment of malnourished children.

Ayoya added that they have seen children dying in these hospitals.

A day earlier, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that 1.1 million children in Afghanistan were facing the most severe forms of acute malnutrition.

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