News / Asia

Ideology, Violence Prevent Polio Eradication in Pakistan

Ideology, Violence Prevent Polio Eradication in Pakistani
X
October 23, 2013 2:25 PM
Pakistan is one of three countries left in the world where polio remains endemic, the other two being neighboring Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad that with the help of the international community, the number of polio cases in Pakistan has dropped from 25,000 16 years ago, to just over 40 cases this year. But a Taliban ban on vaccinations and attacks on health workers mean that the highly infectious disease continues to spread.
Sharon Behn
Pakistan is one of three countries left in the world where polio remains endemic, the other two being neighboring Afghanistan, and Nigeria. In Islamabad, with the help of the international community, the number of polio cases in Pakistan has dropped from 25,000 16 years ago, to just over 40 cases this year. But a Taliban ban on vaccinations and attacks on health workers mean that the highly infectious disease continues to spread.
 
Polio in Pakistan: Infected DistrictsPolio in Pakistan: Infected Districts
x
Polio in Pakistan: Infected Districts
Polio in Pakistan: Infected Districts
Crippled by polio when he was just six months old, Hasmatullah Niazi does not blame his mother. She was just 16 when he was born and did not know about the virus.
 
Polio Cases in PakistanPolio Cases in Pakistan
x
Polio Cases in Pakistan
Polio Cases in Pakistan
Now, health teams go door to door to educate the public and try to vaccinate all children against the crippling virus.
 
But Taliban attacks, stretching from Peshawar in the north to Karachi in the south, have killed dozens of health workers and their police escorts.
 
As a result, some 260,000 children are still not vaccinated and the virus is spreading once again. Per Engebak, Polio Team Leader for UNICEF in Pakistan, said the security issue is preventing eradication. “If you have pockets in the country where you have the so-called reservoirs of the polio virus where they are in circulation in the sewage water or in the environment, these are transmission sites - into other parts of the country, and if you have contact, you will have transmission,” he noted.
 
Polio facts:

  • Mainly affects children under 5 years old
  • One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis
  • Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan are the only countries that are polio-endemic
  • There is no cure for polio; it can be prevented by vaccination

Source: WHO
For polio victim Niazi, the extremists' stance against vaccinations is tragic.
 
“I think they are committing a crime, they are committing injustice to their children," accused Niazi, "God forbid if they are victim of polio, their own life will be like in hell, the life of the kids must be, but their own life."
 
Taliban militants say immunizations are part of a Western anti-Muslim plot. The government is working with community and religious leaders to fight back against that belief.
 
​Altaf Bosun of the Prime Minister’s polio eradication unit said the lack of accessibility into what he calls “problematic” areas has led to fresh outbreaks. “There is one choice - now I think there is no choice: polio eradication in Pakistan is must now," he said. "If anybody is deliberately sabotaging this one, then he or she is the enemy of the country, I can say this straightforward. We must be one against the polio eradication.”
 
For Niazi, whose muscles are getting weaker every day, it seems so obvious: if there is a remedy to the disease, use it.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs