Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of the three polio endemic countries in the world including Afghanistan and Nigeria. Polio eradication is a great challenge for Pakistan as it faces a lot of barriers.
Main problems of polio eradication are misconception in mind of people and terrorist attacks. Tehreek-i-Taliban had declared “ban” on polio vaccination in Pakistan and after that polio teams became easy target of terrorist attacks.
Below are some of the highlights of terrorist attacks on polio teams after 2012.
July 17, 2012 unidentified gunmen had fired at World Health Organization (WHO) vehicle in Karachi injuring a doctor and his driver. On July 21, 2012, gunmen killed a health worker in Karchi.
In December 2012, during a three days vaccination campaign, attacks in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts, Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda killed eight vaccinators, six of them women.
On January 31, 2013, two polio vaccination doctors perished in a roadside bomb blast in Waziristan on their way to the restive Kurram Agency.
On April 10, 2013, gunmen killed a policeman protecting a team of female polio workers in northwestern Pakistan.
-On January 21, 2014, immunization drive in Karachi was suspended following the attack on a vaccination team in the city’s Qayyumabad area. Three polio workers had lost lives in this attack.
-On January 22, 2014, at least seven people were killed and nine others injured in an explosion near a police vehicle on its way for security duty for polio immunization workers in Sardheri bazaar of Charsadda district Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
-In another incident in Punjab’s Bhakkar district, the vehicle of a polio vaccination team had also come under attack. The attack left the windows of the vehicle shattered, injuring the driver of the vehicle and a Lady Health Worker.
-These January 2014 attacks came just days after the World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that Peshawar was the world’s “largest reservoir” of the polio virus.
-On February 14, 2015, the New York Times reported that unknown militants had attacked a vehicle carrying a polio vaccination team in Khyber tribal region in the northwestern Pakistan, killing the driver and wounding a health care worker.
-On February 13, 2015, a vaccination team was kidnapped in northern Balochistan’s Zhob district. The bodies of the vaccinator, a driver and two security personnel were found on February 18, 2015. Due to this incident, the Balochistan government had to postpone the anti-polio campaign in Quetta, Zhob, Sherani and Sibi districts because of looming security threats. Balochistan health department had established teams to administer polio drops to children below the age of five years in the aforesaid four districts.
-On May 19, 2015, one attacker was killed and a police constable was injured during an attack on a polio vaccination team in Mardan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
-On January 13, 2016, at least 15 people were killed and several injured after a bomb had exploded near a polio center near Quetta.
-And now on April 20, 2016, or just10 days after the World Health Organization had expressed hope that polio was in its dying days and could be eradicated from Afghanistan and Pakistan within 12 months, seven police personnel, providing security to anti-polio teams, were shot dead in Karachi.
25 November 2016, a policeman guarding polio workers on the second day of vaccination campaign was killed and one injured in a roadside blast in Peshawar.
Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic. Attempts to eradicate it have been badly hit by militant attacks on immunization teams that have claimed dozens of lives since December 2012.
On March 3, 2015, the National Geographic had reported that during the past two years, Taliban militants had killed 63 health workers and members of the security forces assigned to protect them.
-Other international media houses had claimed that between December 2012 and end-September 2015, attacks on personnel linked to polio eradication had claimed 78 lives.
With these sacrifice’s polio cases in Pakistan has decreased by 90% within two years. Hope that Pakistan will be free soon from this crippling disease.
Source: The News