Pakistan to vaccinate 750,000 children in troubled northwest

Pakistani health teams will Sunday launch a drive to vaccinate some 750,000 children in the troubled northwest, with thousands of police guarding against attacks by militants who claim the polio campaign is a front for spying.

The in Peshawar district, which covers Peshawar city and dozens of towns and villages, is the ninth phase of a push to eradicate in Pakistan, which along with Nigeria and Afghanistan are the only countries where the disease remains endemic.

The World Health Organization has warned that Peshawar is the world's "largest reservoir" of polio.

"At least 750,000 children will be administered the vaccine in Peshawar district where 335,000 houses have been identified for the purpose," campaign organiser Yunus Zaheer told AFP on Saturday.

The campaign, which started early February, will continue until the end of April.

Vaccinators go door-to-door every Sunday across Peshawar district to administer drops to children for various diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, pneumonia, whooping cough, measles and hepatitis.

Zaheer said more than 6,200 teams comprising 12,500 workers have been set up to administer the vaccines, adding 6,700 police officials would be deployed on security duty during the campaign.

He said the campaign is likely to be extended to other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province later.

A senior local administration official, Zaheer-ul-Islam, also confirmed the details of the campaign.

According to the WHO, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012.

Pakistan's failure to defeat polio stands in stark contrast to its neighbour and great rival India, which recently celebrated the eradication of the disease three years after its last case.

Some 56 people including health workers and police officials providing security have been killed in militant attacks on polio vaccination teams in Pakistan since December 2012.

Militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban oppose the immunisation drive, saying it is a cover for US spying.

Violence, and the threat of it, have badly hampered the campaign to stamp out polio in Pakistan.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Polio cases in Pakistan pass 2012 total

Nov 13, 2013

Polio is on the rise in Pakistan, health officials said Wednesday, as the number of infections in 2013 passed the total for the whole of 2012.

Polio returns to Afghan capital after 13 years

Feb 11, 2014

Afghanistan has launched an emergency polio vaccination campaign in Kabul after a girl contracted the disease, the city's first case since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Recommended for you

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

19 hours ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

Jan 30, 2015

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

Jan 30, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.