“This measles vaccination campaign is part of the national response to stop the spread of the epidemic, save the lives of young children and reduce the burden on health systems,” said the representative of the World Organization. of Health (WHO) in Afghanistan, Luo Dapeng.
Taliban government health authorities, with the support of the UN agency, hope to cover 49 districts in 24 Afghan provinces, in a campaign that began last Saturday and ends on Thursday.
The WHO has warned of an alarming rise in measles cases in Afghanistan, an outbreak that began in early 2021 due to “the accumulation of a high number of unvaccinated children under 5”.
Between January 2021 and last Sunday, the country has recorded 48,366 cases and 250 deaths, and this year alone, 142 children have died from the disease.
The rising number of measles cases is “particularly concerning” when added to the “extremely high levels of malnutrition” in Afghanistan, the WHO said.
Measles is particularly dangerous in malnourished children who, after contracting measles without being vaccinated, may experience symptoms such as blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, dehydration and respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia.
Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian and economic crisis exacerbated by the Taliban’s takeover in August, the resulting international isolation, as well as the freezing of Afghan funds abroad and the reduction of direct aid .