Afghan Acting Health Minister Says Country Wants To Boost Immunization Access

Reuters featured an interview with Afghanistan’s Acting Health Minister Suraya Dalil on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. “Afghanistan, whose government is fighting a worsening insurgency that has dragged on for nearly a decade since the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Taliban, is also plagued by poverty, malnutrition and corruption,” Reuters writes, adding that the government and donors together spend “barely” $10 per person on health annually.

Though Afghanistan vaccinated nearly 83 percent of children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis in 2009, compared with 31 percent in 2000, the country still has the second highest child mortality rate in the world, with one in five Afghan children dying before age five, according to a WHO report released last week, Reuters reports. Afghanistan will seek help for funding pneumococcal pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhea vaccines from GAVI Alliance, Dalil told Reuters. “Tens of thousands of lives will be saved … The government of Afghanistan will co-finance this. That will show our political commitment,” she said (Nebehay, 5/17).