28 April 2017

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Health

Monday, April 24, 2017
Kabul (BNA)  World Immunization Week launched yesterday in Afghanistan by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), WHO and UNICEF, together with national and international partners supporting immunization services in the country, MoPH said in a statement.
According to the statement, the yearly Immunization Week campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination and ensure that people take action to receive all required life-saving vaccines.
Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions preventing illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza, pneumonia, tetanus and measles, the statement added.
“Immunization is the right of every child. We must accelerate our efforts to ensure all children all over the country are vaccinated and protected from diseases. Strengthening Afghanistan’s routine immunization system is among our top priorities. Through immunization we can protect children from traditional vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and also pneumonia, a major killer of children under 5 years of age,” said Dr Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health.
Afghanistan’s overall immunization coverage remains low with disparities throughout the regions. Vaccination can avert more than one third of under-five deaths but based on estimated routine immunization coverage, around 1 in 6 children still lack access to vaccines. Afghanistan’s under-five mortality rate remains among the highest in the world at 55 per 1,000 live births.
“Vaccines work to fight diseases, to protect individuals and communities and to save lives. We must make sure that routine immunization services reach all Afghans, no matter where they live, and that caregivers vaccinate their children during all house-to-house immunization campaigns,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Country Representative. “We need to significantly step up our efforts to achieve universal access to immunization in order to improve child health and drive sustainable development in Afghanistan.”
“Immunization is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions that saves children’s lives and contributes to building a better future for Afghanistan,” said Ms Adele Khodr, UNICEF Country Representative. “We must reach all children with quality vaccines and intensify our efforts to reach the unreached children who are in greatest need and most vulnerable.”
Mortality due to vaccine-preventable diseases has decreased in the past decade due to the Government’s immunization efforts supported by local and international partners. In the past year, the number of health centers providing immunization services increased by 12 per cent, now including 1,767 facilities around the country. Currently 10 antigens are included in Afghanistan’s routine immunization program, available free of charge. In recent years, Afghanistan has successfully introduced new vaccines, including the Pentavalent vaccine protecting people from five deadly diseases and the Pneumococcal vaccine to fight pneumonia.
Afghanistan has seen major progress in efforts to eradicate polio in recent years and most of the country remains polio-free. In 2016, 13 polio cases were reported, compared to 20 in 2015. Three polio cases have been reported so far in 2017 from Kandahar, Helmand and Kunduz provinces.

Monday, April 17, 2017
Kabul (BNA)  The Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan, together with WHO and UNICEF, will today launch a Sub-National Immunization Days (SNID) campaign to vaccinate over 6.8 million children under the age of 5 against polio in high-risk districts in 27 provinces around Afghanistan, a statement from the ministry said. According to the statement, the campaign will be conducted in all provinces in the Southern and South-eastern regions, most districts in the Eastern region as well as selected high-risk districts across the country, including Kabul city. The campaign will also be carried out in Kunduz province along with four bordering provinces as a response to a polio case that was reported from the Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz in March, the statement added. “The most recent polio case from Kunduz, a 14-month-old girl, highlights the urgency of making sure that every single child under the age of 5 is vaccinated during every campaign, everywhere in Afghanistan. We must all play our part in ensuring that our children are healthy and stay protected from polio,” said Minister of Public Health, Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz. During the campaign, over 52,000 trained polio workers will go from house to house in their communities to vaccinate children. On Friday, polio teams will re-visit households where children were missed the first time the vaccinators visited to ensure that all children are vaccinated and protected, the statement continued.
All caregivers who miss having their children vaccinated should visit their local health centre where the vaccine is available free of charge. The polio vaccine is safe and it does not have any side effects, even for sleeping or sick children and newborns. Polio vaccines have also been strongly endorsed by national and global Islamic scholars, including the Ulama. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio is still circulating. Most of Afghanistan remains polio-free, but wild poliovirus continues to circulate in localized geographical areas.
Three polio cases have been reported in 2017, one from Helmand, one from Kandahar and the most recent one from Kunduz. In 2016, 13 polio cases were reported, down from 20 in 2015, the statement concluded.

Sunday, April 16, 2017
Kabul (BNA) The most well-equipped neuron-surgical hospital constructed by UAE was inaugurated yesterday by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
In opening ceremony held on this occasion with participation of United Arab Emirates representative and officials for ministry of public health, the country’s chief executive said UAE by constructing Shaikh Zaed hospital has shown its recommitment to continued cooperation and assistance to Afghanistan.
Praying to the souls of those UAE diplomats martyred in Kandahar incident, chief executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said the UAE diplomats visiting the province for implementation of development projects were martyred by Taliban.
Dr. Abdullah by praising UAE for its assistance and cooperation with Afghanistan said the country had helped Afghanistan in various sectors in particular reconstruction process and construction of the hospital was an example of the assistance.
He instructed leading panel of the public health ministry to necessarily make use of the hospital’s possibilities and equipment so that Afghan citizens could see its positive results, adding that the national unity government was trying to strengthen and expand the respective hospital in order to address health problems of Afghanistan people inside the country.
The country’s chief executive also instructed ministry of public health to take practical steps towards collecting and reproducing health trashes as the issue would face health of the people and environment with serious threats, adding that negligence in this regard could not be accepted. In the ceremony, UAE acting ambassador to Kabul Ahmad Nasir al-Khwaja and minister of public of health also briefed related to importance and need of the hospital.
It is worth mentioning that the 100-bed hospital has been constructed by Shaikh Zaed bin Sultan Welfare Organization.

Monday, April 10, 2017
Kabul (BNA)   The Ministry of Public Health and World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated World Health Day at an event here in Kabul yesterday to increase awareness and mobilize action around depression, a common mental health disorder and the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, a statement from the Ministry of Public Health said.
According to latest WHO estimates, more than 300 million people are living with depression globally, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. While accurate data on depression and mental health disorders is not available in Afghanistan, according to recent WHO estimates more than a million Afghans suffer from depressive disorders while over 1.2 million suffer from anxiety disorders, the statement added.
Depression affects people of all ages but the risk of becoming depressed is increased by multiple factors such as poverty, insecurity and conflict, unemployment, physical illness, gender-based violence and drug use.
Depression causes mental anguish and impacts people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally.
“The Ministry of Public Health has recently trained over 700 professional psychological counselors and 101 specialized mental health doctors. Of these, 300 are currently working in government-run health centers while the others are working for different health NGOs,” said Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health, as quoted in the statement.
“We need to fight the stigma and discrimination associated with depression and other mental health problems and ensure all people have access to help when they need it,” he added.
According to MopH statement, WHO has identified strong links between depression and other non-communicable disorders and diseases. Depression increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and it is also an important risk factor for suicide.
“Our campaign slogan for this year’s World Health Day is ‘Let’s Talk’.  For someone suffering from depression, talking to a person they trust, whether it is a friend, family member or health worker, is often the first step towards treatment and recovery,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Country Representative.
“There is an urgent need for increased investment towards supporting mental health interventions in Afghanistan to ensure support is available for people with mental health disorders. We need to treat mental health with the urgency it deserves,” Peeperkorn was quoted in the statement as saying.
Depression is a common mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for 14 days or longer. In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide, the statement concluded.

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