20,000 Afghan Children Vaccinated Against Polio

This year, the first phase of the vaccination program for refugee children in Iran was carried out April 8-11.This year, the first phase of the vaccination program for refugee children in Iran was carried out April 8-11.

In the first phase of the children’s immunization program for refugees, 20,000 Afghan children under five years of age were given vaccine for poliomyelitis.

“This year (started March 21), the first phase of the vaccination program for refugee children in Iran was carried out April 8-11, and the second phase will be conducted in May,” said Reza Fadaee, director of contagious diseases at Isfahan Health Department, IRNA reported.

Health and education services are provided to refugees in Isfahan Province (as well as in other provinces) on par with nationals, according to Mahdi Soleimani, director general of the provincial Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA).

Iran also provides Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) for polio eradication programs in neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two nations in 2015 were declared “one epidemiological block” in the fight against polio.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world still struggling against endemic polio. The outbreak of poliomyelitis (also known as infantile paralysis) is one of the most important health concerns in Pakistan and Iran’s assistance was sought to address the issue.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has entrusted Iran with the task of producing polio vaccine required for immunization against the disease in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  Ability to Export

Iran has the infrastructure to produce sufficient polio vaccine to meet the needs of the national immunization programs as well as for people in the neighboring countries.

 “We have the capacity to export surplus polio vaccine doses to both countries,” Mostafa Qanei, head of Iran Pasteur Institute (IPI), had said earlier.

In 2014, polio virus was spreading only in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan, which share a 2,400 km porous border, have long been tackling opposition to the administration of OPV to children by the Taliban that was toppled from power in Afghanistan in a US-led invasion in 2001, but has waged an armed campaign to re-establish its stone age rule.

Iran is polio-free and no new incidence of polio infections have been registered since 2001. The country received the certification for polio eradication from the WHO on February 19 after decades of battling the virus.

In order to ensure that all the requirements for polio eradication certification are met by the member states, a review of the annual updates of respective national documentation, including phase-1 laboratory containment reports, are conducted by the international health watchdog.

The coverage of polio immunization program is 100% across the country while it used to be 30% before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Vaccines are supplied by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Institute located in Karaj, Alborz Province.  It is the only one in the Middle East producing the polio vaccine.

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