AF/PAK: Eight Polio Vaccine Health Workers Slain in Pakistan

December 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm Leave a comment

Madness

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where the crippling disease polio is still a public health threat.

Pakistan (Map courtesy CIA World Factbook)

Pakistan (Map courtesy CIA World Factbook)

But the United Nations has been running a successful program to immunize those most at risk – children under the age of five living in unsanitary conditions.

So far this year, 56 polio cases have been reported in Pakistan, compared to the 190 reported last year, according to the United Nations.

The program has been suspended, however, after eight volunteer polio campaign workers have been shot and killed by gunmen in the last two days. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Karachi and Charsadda, but some Islamic extremists believe the immunization program is just a cover for Western espionage, the Associated Press reports. Another health worker was seriously wounded by gunmen outside Peshawar.

Wednesday (Dec. 19) was the final day of a three-day nationwide anti-polio drive. An estimated 5.2 million polio vaccine drops were to be administered during the campaign, according to the BBC.

Opposition to immunization efforts have grown in parts of Pakistan — especially after it was learned learned that a fake hepatitis vaccination program was the cover used by U.S. efforts to locate al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in 2011. Pakistan’s Taliban, in a phomne call to the AP, denied any responsibility for the attacks.

Nigeria and Afghanistan are the other two countries where polio is endemic.

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Entry filed under: Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Pakistan. Tags: , , , , , .

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