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Afghanistan Hopes to Eradicate Polio in Two Years

Afghanistan has set itself a target to eradicate the deadly poliomyelitis virus within two years with the support of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) member states, Afghan Health Minister Muhammed Amin Fatimi said here Friday.

About 7.4 million children in Afghanistan needed to be immunized against polio and education programs on polio immunization is also needed, as few families know about vaccination, fearing the vaccine might cause harm, said Muhammed Amin on the KL-OIC Health Ministerial Conference 2007 held in Malaysia.

In order for a country to be considered polio-free, there must be no new reported cases for two years. Afghanistan reported two cases this year.

"Decades of war also affected our health care system. However, after the collapse of the Taliban regime, the new government developed a National Health Policy, which has been implemented very successfully for the good of the Afghan people", Muhammed Amin said, according to the report by Malaysian national news agency Bernama.

Polio is a highly infectious disease, mainly affecting children. It is easily transmitted in unsanitary conditions. The virus enters the body through the mouth, multiplies in the intestine, and then invades the nervous system, causing permanent paralysis.

Amin added that the country was not only intensifying efforts to address this, but also other health problems like malnutrition among children, poor sanitation and access to clean water.

"We are giving more scholarships to our men and women to take up various health courses so that all Afghans can look forward to a better future ahead in regard to the health of their families", he said.


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