Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on August 22 that India has decided to vaccinate returnees from Afghanistan against Polio for free as a preventive measure against the wild poliovirus.
“We have decided to vaccinate Afghanistan returnees with free Polio Vaccine- OPV & fIPV, as a preventive measure against Wild Polio Virus,” tweeted the minister, sharing a photo where returnees are spotted getting vaccine doses at the Delhi international airport.
“Congratulations to the Health Team for their efforts to ensure public health.”
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Pakistan and Afghanistan are the two countries that remain still endemic.
India evacuated around 168 people, including 107 Indians from Kabul, in a military transport aircraft of the IAF amid the fragile security situation in the capital of Afghanistan after the Taliban’s take over a week back.
With the takeover of Kabul, The Taliban swept across Afghanistan, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities, including Kabul, having the withdrawal of the US forces this month.
It is estimated that there still could be up to 300 Indian citizens in Afghanistan. India had earlier evacuated around 200 embassy staffers, including the Indian ambassador, from Kabul in two C-17 Globemaster of the IAF. The first one brought back over 40 people, mainly embassy staffers, on August 16. The second C-17 aircraft landed in New Delhi with nearly 150 people, including Indian officials, diplomats, security personnel, and stranded Indian citizens. Indian nationals in Kabul have been evacuated using the Tajikistan and Qatar routes.
An Air India flight is expected to land with around 90 passengers in New Delhi soon.
India is commencing RT-PCR tests on all Afghanistan returnees simultaneously as the global public health agency expressed concern about Afghanistan.
“Months of violence have taken a heavy toll on Afghanistan’s fragile health system, which had already been facing an acute shortage of essential supplies amid the Covid-19 pandemic, “Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director, was quoted as saying.