News / Asia

Anti-Polio Campaign Suspended in Pakistan After 8 Murders

Anti-polio campaign worker Hilal Khan (C), who was shot and badly injured by unidentified gunmen, is treated at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, December 19, 2012.
Anti-polio campaign worker Hilal Khan (C), who was shot and badly injured by unidentified gunmen, is treated at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, December 19, 2012.
VOA News
World health officials have suspended a polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan after a series of attacks left eight polio vaccination volunteers dead.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations children's agency halted work on the three-day nationwide vaccination campaign Wednesday.

The decision came after unidentified gunmen opened fire on three vaccination teams scattered across northwestern Pakistan Wednesday.  Earlier in the week, attacks in Peshawar and Karachi killed six people and wounded several others. Pakistan's government has condemned the attacks.

Polio in Pakistan
(source World Health Organization)

  • Pakistan is one of three countries that remains polio-endemic
  • Failure to eradicate polio from these remaining strongholds could result in 200,000 new global cases every year within 10 years
  • Pakistan's nationwide eradication program has existed since 1994, but instability and war hampers efforts
  • Polio is highly infectious and can cause total paralysis and even death
  • The virus mainly affects children under five years of age
UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe says that they are "deeply saddened" by the deaths and that those killed were local workers.

"They are truly the unsung heroes of the polio eradication campaign, without a doubt.  There's no way that we would be able to do anything without them.  They are vitally important.  And that's why the work must continue," she said.

She says that with their help, Pakistan has seen a 70 percent drop in polio cases this year.

Crowe says the local workers also help to dispel rumors that the vaccination efforts are meant to sterilize Muslims or are dangerous for children.

  • A Pakistani schoolgirl, who was displaced with her family from Pakistan's tribal areas due to fighting between militants and the army, receives a polio vaccine from a health worker in the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, January 31, 2013.
  • Pakistani schoolgirls listen to their teacher, not seen, as a health worker visits their school to give them polio vaccines in the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, January 31, 2013.
  • Pakistani schoolchildren look for their shoes while other enter a classroom as a health worker visits their school to give polio vaccines, in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, January 31, 2013.
  • Pakistani relatives and mourners of a polio worker, who was killed in a roadside bomb, pray next to his body, in Parachinar, Pakistan, January 31, 2013.
  • A policeman stands guard as Neila gives polio vaccine drops to a child at a Christian colony slum in Islamabad, Pakistan, December 20, 2012.
  • A polio worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child in Lahore, Pakstian, December 20, 2012.
  • A policeman accompanies polio workers during their anti-polio drive mission in Lahore, Pakistan, December 20, 2012.
  • A health worker visits Lahore's slums to administer the polio vaccine to infants, Pakistan, December 19, 2012.
  • Nishat gives polio vaccine drops to a girl in Lahore, Pakistan, December 20, 2012.
  • A girl shows a finger marked after being immunized in Lahore, Pakistan, December 19, 2012.

And while no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Pakistani Taliban have prevented such programs in the past, saying they are a cover for spying.

The Taliban began voicing opposition to Western-backed health programs after a Pakistani doctor was imprisoned for helping U.S. intelligence agents run a fake hepatitis vaccination program aimed at locating then-fugitive al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

In July, armed men killed a Pakistani doctor working for the World Health Organization on a national immunization campaign.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries were polio remains endemic.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: pbp'od'human'race from: America
December 19, 2012 5:13 PM
?'s:
Can the UN Security Ops police the UNICEF Vaccination Program?
Is stopping the program defeating their mission toward the eradication of the disease?
Does this mission include the clandestine-like motives as did the 'find Saddam' kind o' motives of earlier campaign?
Why target the innocent persons helping - the innocent masses, especially if it's (said group) to try making a point of opposing the innocent being used for any clandestine motives?
Why do said groups & others hide behind the innocent masses to deliver any-kind of violence against its' adversaries?
Why do I ask so many questions?
Is this allowed and acceptable as a comment?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More