India to inoculate all Afghanistan returnees with free polio vaccines
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Sunday that the central government will be vaccinating returnees from Afghanistan with a free polio shot as a preventive measure against the Wild Polio Virus. The announcement comes on the day a C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) landed at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad from the Afghan capital of Kabul with 168 passengers, including more than 100 Indians and some 20 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus. Two more flights ferrying Indians from Afghanistan's Kabul landed earlier on Sunday, including a special Air India flight carrying 87 Indians.
"We have decided to vaccinate Afghanistan returnees with free Polio Vaccine - OPV & fIPV, as a preventive measure against Wild Polio Virus," Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted. "Congratulations to the health team for their efforts to ensure public health."
The Union minister also attached a photo of the vaccine drive, which is already underway at the Delhi international airport.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday raised an alarm over the healthcare situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, noting that the conflict in the country has left countless people vulnerable to hunger and illnesses. The public health body estimates that around half of Afghanistan's population, which includes more than four million women and nearly 10 million children, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The WHO said that countries must continue to provide health services to the people in Afghanistan, lest the current drought worsens to even dire situation.
The United Kingdom has said that it will administer vaccines against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to Afghan refugees coming to the country on fleeing the Taliban. The UK is also looking to resettle around 20,000 vulnerable Afghans under a new resettlement programme.