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Afghanistan introduces rotavirus vaccine to protect infants and young children against severe diarrhoea

KABUL, Afghanistan, 27 January 2017 - The Government of Afghanistan today introduced rotavirus vaccine to prevent the spread of rotavirus, the most common cause of severe and fatal diarrhoea among infants and young children throughout the world.

The vaccine, which will be available for free in health facilities throughout the country, is the 10th vaccine to be introduced into the national schedule of the expanded programme on immunization (EPI). It is administered in two oral doses for children at 6 and 10 weeks of age.

At the launch ceremony in Kabul, attended by representatives of WHO and UNICEF and the Minister of Public Health, H.E. Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, described the new vaccine as ‘life-saving’. “Adding rotavirus vaccine to our immunization schedule will have a tremendous impact on child health.  As we introduce this vaccine, we welcome the ongoing support of our partners who are working with the Ministry of Public Health to improve the lives of children in Afghanistan.”

Speaking at the event, WHO Representative in Afghanistan Dr. Richard Peeperkorn said, “Rotavirus takes the lives of around 4000-5000 Afghan children under the age of five each year. The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine will help Afghanistan consolidate its gains in reducing infant mortality and ending preventable child deaths.”

In her remarks, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, Adele Khodr, said The death toll from rotavirus infections in the developing world is enormous, it infects nearly every child in this country before the age of five. In Afghanistan, rotavirus vaccination coupled with hand washing with soap, drinking potable water and using latrines, has the potential to avert more than one million diarrhoea cases, 660,000 outpatient visits and approximately 50,000 hospital admissions over a period of 10 years.”

Afghanistan reports more than 100,000 cases of diarrhoea annually, with 40-45 per cent related to rotavirus.

To ensure the continuous availability of Rotavirus vaccine across the country, UNICEF is supporting Afghanistan’s national expanded programme on immunization to utilize ‘Visibility for Vaccines’ (ViVa) an online tool developed by WHO and UNICEF for vaccine supply chain management.


For more information, contact:

Ministry of Public Health

Dr. Nazary, National EPI Manager   Mobile: 0797223009 Email:


Tuuli Hongisto, WHO Afghanistan, Mobile +93 (0) 78 220 0354,

Abdul Shakoor, WHO Afghanistan, Mobile + 93 (0) 70 002 5888


Denise Shepherd-Johnson, UNICEF Afghanistan, Mobile: +93 (0) 730 71 7110

Feridoon Aryan, UNICEF Afghanistan, Mobile: +93 (0) 730 717 115 



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