EU humanitarian aid’ jets in
over 26 metric tons of lifesaving immunization vaccines, amidst the Covid19 pandemic
Kabul, 17 June 2020 – The European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) in collaboration with UNICEF, today flew in a shipment of over 26 metric tons of vaccines in support of the expanded programme on immunization, amidst the Covid 19 pandemic. This is part of the European Union’s emergency humanitarian air bridge in support of most vulnerable children and women in Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan is one of the countries where 1 in 2 children are not fully immunized, making the battle against preventable diseases like measles, rotavirus or polio, while responding to the COVID-19 cases, extremely critical,” says Dr. Ahmad Jawad Osmani, Acting Minister of Public Health. “During this pandemic, Afghanistan cannot afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dr Jawad emphasized.
In Afghanistan, the COVID-19 pandemic is straining human and financial resources, further weakening the health system, and disrupting its routine services. Also, due to lockdowns, and mothers’ fears of infection, visits to health care centres are declining. This disruption of routine immunization services, even for brief periods, will result in increased numbers of susceptible children, and raises the likelihood of outbreak-prone vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) such as measles.
“The constraints faced by the health system in Afghanistan is ever-increasing and, in such times, it is our joint responsibility to come together and provide humanitarian support to the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan,” says Luigi Pandolfi, the Head of the European Commission Office for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) in Afghanistan. “At this difficult time, it is heartwarming to see that EU humanitarian aidis able to support the Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF in delivering life-saving vaccines to children and women.”
The humanitarian air bridge includes vaccines, and vaccine related supplies that will protect children from diseases such as polio, pneumonia, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough amongst others.
"At UNICEF, our vision and mission are very clear: the survival and wellbeing of children is an imperative,” says Dr. Aboubacar Kampo, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative. “During this pandemic period, UNICEF is committed to ensure adequate vaccine supplies are available in country, to support the continuation of routine immunization for every child and woman, especially the most vulnerable.”
Immunization remains a life-saving health intervention. As the world's biggest supplier of vaccines, UNICEF will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting the Government and Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan’s current and future immunization efforts.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Afghanistan, visit www.unicef.org/afghanistan.
About EU humanitarian aid
The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.