SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Success seen in attempts to vaccinate children in Afghanistan

UNICEF announced on May 7 that its efforts to vaccinate children in remote regions of Afghanistan are beginning to show signs of success.

Akram, a 4-year old in Afghanistan, is an example of how UNICEF is reaching people and changing their minds on vaccinations.

Akram was diagnosed with measles and had to make several trips to the hospital. He was eventually quarantined in his home and shows signs of improvement.

"I didn't pay much attention when health workers came and told me about the importance of vaccination," Zarghona, Akram's mother, said. "Now I feel so sad when I see my child suffer."

Zarghona has promised to have Akram's siblings vaccinated.

Akram is lucky he survived, but this is not the case for all the children in Afghanistan who are not vaccinated. There are numerous hurdles for getting these children the vaccinations they need, including fragile health infrastructure, difficult geographical terrain, continuing conflict and a lack of public understanding of the importance of immunization.

UNICEF, along with the Ministry of Public Health, is responding to these challenges by making a push to reach the children in the most vulnerable and inaccessible districts. Campaigns, like those seen on World Vaccination Week, help to increase the number of children vaccinated.

"Such global campaigns boost our efforts in trying to reach out to the last child and make sure that he or she is vaccinated, but our success lies in routine immunization of Afghanistan's children," Vidhya Ganesh, UNICEF deputy representative, said.