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Estonia Helping to Protect Afghan Children From Polio

29.06.2012

No. 192-E

The Foreign Ministry is supporting the activities of UNICEF geared towards combating polio in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Afghanistan is one of the priority partners for Estonia’s development co-operation and in recent years we have focused on developing the health care sector in Helmand Province. “Supporting the fight against polio in Helmand is part of our development co-operation activity in Afghanistan,” he stated. “Helmand Province still has a long way to go in the health care sector, and therefore we wish to continue supporting its development in order to ensure a better life for Afghans,” he added.

Afghanistan is one of the three countries in the world, in addition to Pakistan and Nigeria, where polio remains endemic. The situation is especially complicated in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, and Uruzgan. One obstacle in the fight against polio is peoples’ low awareness of the disease. For example, only half of Afghan families had heard of polio prior to vaccines being delivered. The vaccination process is hindered due to communication problems stemming from cultural factors. Often women do not open the door for people coming around with vaccines and instead the door is opened by the older children of the family, who do not always understand the importance of the vaccine. Therefore the children in some families remain unvaccinated.

The goal of UNICEF’s project is to increase awareness of polio in Afghanistan, train people connected to the vaccination process, and increase vaccination capabilities. The desired result for these activities is to reduce the number of unvaccinated children in nine regions of Helmand Province − Bust, Nad-e-Ali/Marjah, Nowzad, Nahrisiraj, Musa Qala, Sangin, Nawa, Kajjaki and Washer − by at least 50%.

The Foreign Ministry is supporting the UNICEF project with 20 453 euros allocated from the budget for development and humanitarian aid. 

SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE
+372 637 7654
pressitalitus@mfa.ee
www.vm.ee

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