Polio Eradication

Polio Eradication



Polio Eradication

The Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) is a global public health initiative launched almost two decades ago. Since then, significant progress has been made towards global eradication of the deadly virus and protection of millions of children from lifelong paralysis. As a result of intensive worldwide efforts to eradicate the disease, Afghanistan is now one of only three countries in the world where the disease still remains endemic. The other two countries are Pakistan and Nigeria.

UNICEF provides technical support to the Ministry of Public Health in implementing communication and social mobilisation interventions. The UNICEF polio communication team aims to mobilise Afghans, caregivers, religious leaders, community elders, teachers and health staff to eradicate polio. 

While there has been a near 100 per cent increase in awareness levels in the low performing districts and significant gains have also been made in improving accessibility, there remains a sizeable number of children within accessible communities who are still missing out on being vaccinated for various reasons. As outlined in the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-18, for Afghanistan to interrupt wild polio virus transmission, these missed children need to be ‘accessed’ and vaccinated.

Communication and social mobilisation strategies will shift the focus from raising awareness to community demand and ownership through:

Expansion of the Immunisation Communication Network, a community based social mobilisation initiative which will cover all the low performing districts with a special focus on house to house Inter-Personal Communication (IPC). The initiative will address key stakeholders like parents/caregivers of missed children, those refusing vaccination for their children, identification of newborns, and messaging on RI, hand-washing and breastfeeding. Besides engagement of key community leaders, local religious leaders, schools/teachers and CBOs will be addressed through meetings and events will be organized to promote social and behaviour change which will further increase awareness levels, knowledge and commitment to immunisation and related services. 

Mass media and extensive engagement with regional and local media will help integrate relevant messages about the importance of immunisation, hand-washing and exclusive breastfeeding.

  Interpersonal communication (IPC) skills of frontline workers will be strengthened

WHO and UNICEF are lead partners of the ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in efforts to eradicate polio from Afghanistan, with well-defined roles and responsibilities in vaccination campaigns. Almost 64,000 service providers including coordinators, supervisors, monitors, community mobilisers and vaccinators/volunteers are involved in each National Immunisation Days (NIDs) campaign. Over 9 million children under 5 years of age are targeted for vaccination against polio through the house-to-house approach in each round of the NIDs. 3.7 million children are vaccinated in each sub-NIDs campaign. These campaigns are also used to administer vitamin A twice a year and de-worming tablets once a year.





UNICEF Afghanistan Polio Update

(PDF documents require Acrobat Reader to view.)


UNICEF procures 82.6 million doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) in 2014

These doses were used during 34 polio campaigns, with a focus on 53 low Performing Districts (LPDs) where there was the greatest risk of polio virus transmission. Nine million children under five years of age will be targeted for vaccination against polio during each of the four rounds of the planned National Immunization Days (NIDs) in 2015.

Furthermore, over 3.5 million children will be vaccinated again in each of the multiple sub-NID campaigns conducted in the LPDs. To support effective vaccine management and services in 2014, UNICEF procured and replaced cold chain equipment including 9,000 vaccine carriers, 39 Ice pack freezers, 32 deep freezers, and 110,000 ice packs. Contributing to an improved and sustained cold chain network is an anticipated legacy of the Polio Endgame Strategy. Campaign based IPV was introduced for the first time during November 2014 in Afghanistan. The campaign implemented in 11 LPDs of the South and the East of the country. The second phase of IPV during campaigns is planned in 2015.

April, 2015

Afghanistan is now one of only three countries in the world where the disease still remains endemic. The other two countries are Pakistan and Nigeria.

In Afghanistan the effort to eradicate polio is lead by the Ministry of Public Health. The World Health Organization and UNICEF provide significant technical support.

Our monthly updates feature up-to-date news about key challenges and innovations about UNICEF’s efforts to eradicate polio.



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