IFRC and Afghanistan government commit to collaboration to eradicate polio and achieve universal health coverage

Published: 23 May 2013

Geneva: 23 May 2013 – Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have released a joint statement committing to a closer partnership in promoting access to health care in the country.

During a meeting on the side of the 66th Annual World Health Assembly, Her Excellency Dr Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC said that despite the great strides the country has made in providing health care in recent years, half of all children still have poor access to lifesaving immunization services.

The statement said the Afghan Red Crescent Society was in the perfect position to bridge the health care gap with its extensive network of staff and volunteers, particularly women, across the country. “More than 2,000 Red Crescent women volunteers are actively engaged in community health programmes in 34 provinces.”

“Trained Red Crescent volunteers, who live in the same community as the local population and speak the same language, can help reach the most inaccessible, poor and marginalized communities and help bridge social, cultural and other barriers that impede progress towards providing universal coverage of immunization.”

As part of the joint commitment to universal health coverage, both the Ministry and IFRC have identified the eradication of polio in Afghanistan as one of the most important aims, suggesting that immunization programmes will be a vital entry point to improve maternal, newborn and child health, and health services in general.