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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid