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Afghanistan and Pakistan Partner to Eradicate Polio

Vaccination teams were on ground in the mountainous tribal lands bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, leading an effort to eradicate polio in areas that had been previously inaccessible due to security conditions. Teams traveled house-to-house from December 12-14, vaccinating each child against the debilitating disease.

The drive was initiated by Afghanistan’s Minister of Health Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatemi and his counterpart in Pakistan Mohammad Nasser Khan. The ministers launched the vaccination drive by giving drops to children on both sides of the border. Afghanistan has reported 29 cases of polio in 2006 while 33 cases have been recorded in Pakistan.

According to Minister Fatemi security was an issue, but preventative health measures for children were a higher priority.

"Our joint efforts will go on very successfully” Minister Fatemi said. ”God willing, Pakistan and Afghanistan will soon be declared polio-free countries.”

The two countries will institute five check posts on the border to screen children and administer vaccine drops to the 500,000 children that cross the border every year. Polio check posts are being set up in North and South Waziristan, as well as on the border of Pakistan's Bajaur and Khurram tribal agencies.

"Polio coverage in both countries is 99.9 percent” said Minister Khan. “Now we are in the last lap of the race."

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