Thousands of women in Kabul have eagerly welcomed a large-scale United Nations drive to immunize Afghan children against measles – a major, yet preventable, killer disease among the young, UN officials said today.”Mothers were very enthusiastic and committed to immunize their children,” said Fadela Chaib, a spokesperson for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), briefing reporters in Islamabad. “This was a great rush as the campaign posts opened for vaccination.” Measles is responsible for an estimated 40 per cent of all vaccine-preventable childhood deaths in Afghanistan, killing about 35,000 Afghan children each year. The $8 million effort, which is being organized by WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), aims to vaccinate up to 9 million Afghan children.Starting on Tuesday in Kabul, where some 200 vaccination centres are operating at mosques and hospitals, the campaign will expand to the rest of the country in the coming three months. UNICEF spokesperson Chulho Hyun said harsh winter weather added urgency to the effort. “Children are very vulnerable to infection in cold weather,” Ms. Hyun noted. “Crowded conditions, such as the one seen in camps, also make children more vulnerable to infection.” The UNICEF spokesperson called the immunization drive “one of the best gifts we can give to the children of Afghanistan.”