The Afghan Ministry of Health launched a five-day nationwide campaign between November 30 and December 4 to vaccinate at least 9.9 million children, but were only able to reach 6.5 million children in 34 provinces, a public relations officer for the anti-polio campaign, Mir Jan Rasikh, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Rasikh said provinces such as Helmand, Ghazni, Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar have the highest number of children who have not been vaccinated against polio due to opposition from armed groups such as the Taliban, who do not allow access to health care workers in areas under their control.
Dpa reported that Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said this was because in the past campaigns had been used to gather intelligence in some provinces. They have now established a system to vaccinate children at a mosque and the home of a village elder in the area under their control, Mujahid said.
Cases of polio increased in Afghanistan this year, with at least 56 positive cases recorded across the country, the ministry said.