First round of Afghan Child Health Week (18-24 July)

15 Jul 2010

First round of Afghan Child Health Week (18-24 July)

15 July 2010 - The Ministry of Public Health in partnership with UNICEF and WHO is implementing for the first time, a comprehensive package designed to protect children in vulnerable and hard-to-reach districts.

Child Health Weeks – as this initiative is called – will target 160 000 children under five and 157,800 mothers of child-bearing age in 33 districts of the country, selected due to low immunization coverage, high immunization drop-outs, children’s disease incidence, identified weaknesses of the health and nutrition system delivery and poor understanding and insufficient demand for basic services.

In addition preventive health services will accompany immunization activities during the course of the week.

The childhood diseases that children will be vaccinated against are measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenza-B, and polio.

Approximately 800 vaccination teams will mobilize across these 33 districts during the week. It is estimated that at least 4,200 personnel will be deployed to carry out the activities.

Through this initiative, the government has reinforced its commitment towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4, which aims to reduce child death by two-thirds by 2015.

Afghanistan has already made important progress towards expanding immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases including polio, but challenges still remain. One in five newborns is not reached by routine immunization services. Important geographical disparities exist. Conflict and natural disasters hinder access to many children. Health systems continue to be fragile especially in the war-torn provinces.

In addition a nutrition assessment of children under five years (6-59 months) will be conducted to obtain a snapshot of acute malnutrition to enable efficient response. Iron folate supplementation will be provided to women of childbearing age.