Karzai kicks off polio campaign

Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently initiated a nationwide polio vaccination campaign by personally vaccinating several children at a press conference in Kabul.

The program is scheduled to run for three days in at least 34 provinces in Afghanistan. An estimated 8.2 million children are expected to receive the vaccine during the campaign, according to BakhtarNews.com.af.

The 3.2 million dollar program requires the participation of more than 56,000 healthcare workers and volunteers.

The Ministry of Public Health requested that local governors, district governors, mayors, police commanders and even village elders encourage families to participate and cooperate with the campaign's healthcare teams, according to BakhtarNews.com.af.

Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a childhood viral illness that can affect the nervous system and lead to partial or full paralysis. There is no cure for polio, but there are safe and effective vaccines. The global polio eradication strategy hinges on preventing infection by immunizing as many children as possible, particularly those in polio endemic regions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, there are only three countries where polio is considered endemic - Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. India was recently taken off the list of endemic countries after not reporting any new cases for one year.