WHO, UNICEF launch Afghan polio vaccine campaign with IEA backing
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.
Fourth poliovirus case reported in Nangarhar
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in a press release on Thursday announced that a new polio case in Behsud district of Nangarhar province was reported, bringing the total number of polio cases to four in the county in 2023.
The case is a 48-month-old male child who had the onset of paralysis on 16 May 2023. As per the findings of health ministry, Nangarhar and the entire eastern parts of the country are facing a significant polio threat due to previous instances of environmental polio cases and the confirmed presence of the virus in contaminated water and polluted surroundings.
According to the provincial health officials, healthcare facilities and hygiene measures have been inadequate in Behsud district of Nangarhar where the polio case was recorded.
It is reported that poliovirus can survive for a significant period of time in unsanitary environments.
When children are infected with the virus, they cannot be treated, often resulting in permanent paralysis or death.
Filters for social media photos the cause of growing concern
Norwegian law requires social media influencers to declare whether a photo they have posted on social media has been retouched or not and now, France and Britain are preparing similar laws.
While imperfections are common among humans, social media gives one the impression that influencers are flawless.
The use of face filters and other programs essentially allows people to change their appearances and as technology improves, it becomes more difficult for followers to detect adjustments to photos.
Concerns about the harm caused by the overuse of filters are growing worldwide as critics say this is promoting a culture of unrealistic beauty, especially among teenagers and young adults.
Research conducted by the brand “Dove” has shown that 80% of teenage girls have changed their appearance in online photos since the age of 13.
Studies have also shown that there is a connection between social media and depression and body deformity.
That is why some European countries have decided to control the use of beauty filters and establish regulations about it.
In Norway, advertisers and social media influencers are now required to declare whether the promotional photos they share online have been filtered or altered; Otherwise, they have done an illegal act, euronews reported.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted in March: “In the case of photos and videos published in the framework of advertising activities and as part of financial participation, we will make it mandatory to declare the use of filters or retouching.” “We do this to limit the psychologically damaging effects of these practices on the self-confidence of Internet users.”
Similar provisions are being discussed in the UK as part of the Online Safety Bill.
However, some experts believe that such regulations will not solve the problem.
Media psychologist Pamela Rutledge tells Euronews: “According to research, announcing that a photo has been retouched has no effect. But it would be much better if, instead of this, they fund media literacy and digital literacy so that teenagers are really prepared to face such a situation. Because the problem of the filter may appear in a different form tomorrow.
According to a survey conducted by the British House of Commons in 2020, only 5% of people under the age of 18 in this country said that they do not want to change their appearance by dieting or plastic surgery.
Kandahar hospital gets hi-tech MRI and X-ray equipment
Kandahar’s Ainu Mina hospital has taken delivery of and installed state-of-the-art MRI and X-ray equipment at a cost of 45 million afghanis.
The new equipment was unveiled at the 350-bed hospital on Sunday during a ceremony attended by ministry of public health officials, and provincial officials.
Deputy public health minister, Mawlavi Mohammad Ishaq Sahibzada, said at the ceremony: “An MRI machine, at the cost of 40 million afghanis, and an x-ray machine at the cost of 5 million afghanis, have been purchased and activated by this ministry. The cost of which was paid from the internal budget of the Ministry of Public Health.”
He asked the officials and doctors of this hospital to provide good health services to the people and serve with honesty.
Mawlavi Hayatullah Mubarak, deputy governor of Kandahar, also attended the ceremony and said the installation of MRI and X-ray machines is a good achievement. He said: “Afghans have been severely affected by decades of war. Therefore, along with other sectors, the health sector is also important.”
Mubarak praised the doctors and health workers for their hard work and said: “Security is provided, there is a good environment to work, and people need our services. Therefore, one should make the best use of the opportunities and it is necessary for doctors to continue to treat patients well and fulfill their duties honestly.”
Meanwhile, according to Ministry of Public Health data, Afghans spend on average $500 million a year on medical treatment outside the country.
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