Displaying items by tag: polio
Health workers in Pakistan are marking children’s fingers as having had a polio vaccination, when in reality parents have refused the vaccine after believing conspiracy theories that they are harmful, blasphemous, or a plot to sterilise Muslims. This is the biggest challenge - to eradicate the crippling virus in one of its last haunts. Deteriorating security along the border is making the situation worse, as militants cross from Afghanistan - the only other country where polio is still circulating. After two years free of polio Pakistan has two poliovirus cases. They were also paralysed, raising further concerns that there may still be hundreds of cases in the region. On average, only one in 200 infections leads to paralysis. Bill Gates, who invests billions in the polio fight, said ‘it would be tragic if the disease made a comeback because it would spread back across the world and eventually you have what you had before 1988 - hundreds of thousands of paralysed children.’
A government campaign to vaccinate 40 million children under the age of five against polio had to be suspended following serious attacks on workers and police in just one week. A policeman protecting polio workers was killed in Bannu, and a polio worker was injured with a knife in Lahore by a man refusing to allow his child to be vaccinated. Two others connected with different polio teams were also killed, and one man was seriously wounded. Further attacks on staff in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab were reported. The violence was preceded by a series of rumours intended to derail Pakistan’s campaign to eradicate the disease. On 22 April several thousand children were taken to hospital in north-west Pakistan by panicked parents after a video circulated on Facebook in which a man attested that children were falling sick following vaccinations. A mob set alight a health centre following the same rumour.