Taliban reportedly to cease blocking polio vax

An Afghan health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kandahar province in 2019. Since 2018, the Taliban has blocked polio vaccination campaigns in parts of the country. Photo credit: Javed Tanveer/AFP via Getty Images

For years, the Taliban has blocked medical volunteers in many parts of Afghanistan from providing anti-polio vaccines to the people. Now, that appears to be changing.

Says a National Public Radio report, “For the first time in three years, the Taliban has agreed to allow health workers from the United Nations to begin a nationwide polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

“The door-to-door campaign, in which health workers go from one house to another to administer vaccines, is scheduled to begin next month across the country. The Taliban has not yet confirmed the announcement from UNICEF and the WHO, according to the Associated Press.”

The Taliban had been blocking health workers for a variety of reasons, among them misinformation being spread that polio vaxxing was a plot to sterilize Muslim children.

If this development comes to fruition, it is quite important to Rotary International’s ongoing efforts to help prevent the spread of polio. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries in the world listed by health organizations as being places where polio is endemic (i.e., regularly found among particular people or in a certain area.).

Polio, once a worldwide scourge causing paralysis and often death, cannot be cured, but it can be prevented with an ongoing program of vaccination efforts. Thus, RI’s decades-long push to help eradicate the disease.

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