News / Asia

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

A Pakistani health worker gives a child a polio vaccine in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 8, 2014
A Pakistani health worker gives a child a polio vaccine in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s prime minister has asked the military to help protect polio vaccination workers in the insurgency-plagued northwest. The request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated.  
 
Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic. Recent national eradication efforts have suffered critical setbacks, threatening global gains against the crippling disease.
 
Militant attacks in recent months have killed or injured more than 30 vaccination workers and police officers escorting them.  Pakistani Taliban leaders have banned immunization campaigns in two North and South Waziristan districts that border Afghanistan.
 
The violence and the Taliban ban are blamed for this year's increase in polio victims in these areas. Officials say the country has recorded at least 43 cases, most of them in the Waziristan area. Pakistan reported 93 polio cases in 2013.  
 
On Thursday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for the first time, asked the military to protect polio workers.  
 
Elias Durry heads the World Health Organization’s polio eradication program in Pakistan. He praised the stepped-up effort against the crippling virus.  
 
“The program is missing close to 260,000 children both in North and South Waziristan and some neighboring areas," said Durry. "And this lack of vaccination in these areas have been going on since June of 2012 and that is manifested currently, by you know, almost exclusively most of the cases that the country has now, most of the children who are paralyzed, are coming from those areas.”
 
The militant-dominated Waziristan and adjoining tribal areas are considered some of the last wild polio virus reservoirs in the world. Taliban extremists have blocked polio vaccination teams, accusing them of acting as American spies.

The suspicions stem from a CIA-sponsored fake vaccination program that helped the U.S. military locate and kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Both United Nations and Pakistani officials blame the United States for undermining the anti-polio program.  
 
U.N. officials worry polio outbreaks in Pakistan may result in some countries imposing travel restrictions on Pakistanis.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid