By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry has made polio vaccination compulsory for the citizens of Afghanistan and Pakistan visiting the country. Visitors to Saudi Arabia from both the countries will need to be vaccinated against polio at least 12 months before their arrival under a new Health Ministry edict.
Vaccination has been made mandatory because of the prevalence of the polio virus in both countries, the ministry told Arab News on Tuesday.
Saudi health authorities are taking strict measures to prevent the virus spreading in the Kingdom, with health monitoring centers ensuring visitors have been inoculated against the disease at least a year before arrival.
The centers will also give all pilgrims booster doses of the polio vaccine depending on their country of origin.
Wild poliovirus mainly affects children under five. One in 200 cases develops into irreversible paralysis while 5-10 percent die from respiratory failure.
Global efforts have expanded the capacity of most countries to tackle infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.
This is while that nineteen positive polio cases have so far been registered this year countrywide, with officials blaming the conflict, Afghans’ traveling to Pakistan and lack of awareness for the virus existence.
Ministry of Public Health had said positive polio cases had reached 19 this year in the country and the most (eight) cases were detected in central Uruzgan province.
Five cases were detected in Helmand, three in Kandahar and one each in Paktika, Kunar and Nangarhar provinces this year, he told a gathering marking World Polio Day in October24.
“The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, travel of Afghans to Pakistan, and lack of public awareness regarding polio vaccination are responsible for the survival and spread polio in the country,” according to the ministry, however it said polio drops were administered to children at Torkham and Spin Boldak crossings before entering Afghanistan while Afghan children entering Pakistan given polio drops by Pakistani officials.