3.5 million Pakistani children miss polio vaccine: WHO

More than 3.5 million Pakistani children missed out on polio vaccination this week in a campaign overshadowed by the deaths of nine immunisation workers, a UN official said Friday.

The Muslim-majority nation of 180 million people is one of only three in the world where the highly infectious, crippling disease remains endemic and infections shot up from a low of 28 in 2005 to almost 200 last year.

Nine people working on the UN-backed programme were shot dead in Karachi and the northwest this week, murdered for trying to protect children from a cruel disease that can leave limbs flaccid and useless in a matter of hours.

"Out of a total target of 18.5 million for the last polio round, 14.9 million children were vaccinated throughout the country, resulting in over 3.5 million children missed during the campaign," Dr. Elias Durry, the 's senior coordinator for in Pakistan, told AFP.

"WHO and all the partners in polio eradication salute the of thousands of polio team members in the country who performed their duties in the line of fire to reach the 14.9 million children," he said.

Durry said figures showed 1.75 million children were missed in southern Sindh province after the campaign was called off following the killing of four female polio team members in Karachi, the country's commercial capital.

In the insurgency-hit northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province around 700,000 children were missed as a result of the early suspension of the campaign after the deaths of polio team members.

In central Punjab province, more than 800,000 remained unvaccinated but WHO officials said some major cities started the campaign a day late and data were still awaited. It was expected the number of missed children would significantly fall.

More than 200,000 children in different areas remained unvaccinated for reasons unrelated to the attacks.

Efforts to tackle polio in Pakistan have been hampered over the years by local suspicion about vaccination.

The Pakistani Taliban have denied responsibility for the latest attacks though they have threatened workers in the past and in June they banned vaccinations in the northwestern tribal area of Waziristan, condemning the drive as a cover for espionage.

Resistance also comes from parents, often poorly educated and impressionable, who believe wild conspiracy theories about the vaccine.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

One million Pakistani children miss polio vaccination

Oct 17, 2012

Almost one million Pakistani children were left out of a polio vaccination drive which ended Wednesday, officials said, as unrest and flooding limited access and some parents viewed the campaign as a Western "conspiracy".

Fall in polio vaccination refusal cases in Pakistan

Oct 22, 2012

Pakistan has witnessed a sharp drop in the number of families refusing to get their children vaccinated against polio, officials said Monday, while lamenting that nearly half a million children were left unvaccinated.

UN polio suspension hits 22,000 Pakistan children

Aug 02, 2012

Around 22,000 Pakistani children are at risk in Karachi after the World Health Organization suspended polio vaccinations over a spate of bloody shootings, a UN official warned Thursday.

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

1 hour ago

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

1 hour ago

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

13 hours ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Apr 18, 2014

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

User comments