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Pakistan Sets Up Mandatory Polio Immunization Sites at Airports

A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on May 6, 2014.
Pakistan is setting up mandatory polio immunization points at its international airports in response to recommendations by the World Health Organization.

The announcement from Pakistan’s health minister came after the WHO declared the spread of polio an international public health emergency and identified Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon as having allowed the virus to spread beyond their borders.

The United Nations agency recommended that those three governments require citizens to obtain a certificate proving they have been vaccinated for polio before traveling abroad.

Pakistan is in the spotlight as the only country with endemic polio that saw cases rise last year. Its caseload rose to 93 from 58 in 2012, accounting for more than a fifth of the 417 cases globally in 2013.

Pakistani Health Ministry spokesman Sajid Ali Shah told reporters in Islamabad the government is ready to take action in response to the recommendations made by WHO.

Shah said special measures will include establishing mandatory immunization counters at all airports, border crossings and seaports for all travelers.

The BBC reported that Pakistani officials said details of the campaign and how it would be implemented have yet to be worked out.

WHO says Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year and 59 so far this year.

The disease has re-emerged in Pakistan because the Taliban and other militants violently oppose inoculation campaigns and because of public fears that the vaccine leads to infertility.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.