Polio campaign troubles imperil 350,000 Pakistan children

July 16, 2012

Pakistan on Monday postponed a polio immunisation campaign in parts of its tribal belt, jeopardising the health of more than 350,000 children after the Taliban banned inoculations.

Local Taliban and Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose followers are fighting Western troops in Afghanistan, banned the vaccinations in the northwestern region of Waziristan to protest against US drone attacks.

They have condemned the immunisation campaign, which began nationwide on Monday, as a cover for espionage.

Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi was jailed for 33 years in May after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme as cover.

Fighting between government troops and local warlord Mangal Bagh also made it difficult to innoculate all children in Khyber district, officials said.

"The campaign has been postponed in North and South Waziristan and Bara (district) of Khyber," Mazhar Nisar, in charge of the monitoring cell at the prime minister's secretariat, told AFP.

Officials in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, said a meeting of tribal elders to discuss immunisation had been postponed due to a military curfew.

In Khyber, administration official Irfanullah Wazir told AFP that the target was to vaccinate 200,163 children, but conceded the campaign would be affected in parts of Bara and the Tirah valley, where 111,556 children need the drops.

"We will make every effort to reach the maximum children in those areas, with the help of security forces and lashkars (pro-government tribal militias)," Wazir said.

Fawad Khan, director of health services in the tribal belt, told AFP last week that at least 160,000 children in North Waziristan and 80,000 in South Waziristan would be affected if polio drops are not administered.

Pakistan says 34 million children under five will be targeted in the three-day polio immunisation from Monday to Wednesday.

The prime minister's office said 22 vaccination points had been established on the Afghan-Pakistani border, but expected that a "substantial proportion" of in Bara, South and North Waziristan would not be accessed.

The Lancet medical journal has said vaccination problems led last year to Pakistan's highest number of polio cases in a decade, 198, compared to 144 in 2010.

Polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

The highly infectious disease affects mainly the under-fives and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. Some cases can be fatal.

Explore further: Measles kills 12 children in Pakistan tribal area

Related Stories

Measles kills 12 children in Pakistan tribal area

May 14, 2012
A measles outbreak has killed 12 children in one of Pakistan's lawless tribal districts and is spreading as fighting, power cuts and curfews cause a vaccine shortage, doctors said Monday.

Unvaccinated children rather than lack of effective vaccines is hindering the elimination of polio in Pakistan and Afgha

July 3, 2012
Too few children have received sufficient doses of vaccine to wipe out polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan, two of only three countries in the world where endemic polio has yet to be eliminated, according to new research published ...

Afghan polio cases rise, govt appeals to militants

January 17, 2012
Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged insurgents Tuesday to allow health teams to vaccinate children in war-torn parts of the country where cases of polio have risen sharply.

India marks 1 year since last polio case

January 13, 2012
(AP) -- The top U.S. health official administered polio vaccination drops to children in New Delhi on Friday as India marked one year since its last case of the crippling disease.

Commonwealth leaders raise polio vaccine spending

October 29, 2011
(AP) -- Commonwealth government leaders meeting in Australia agreed Saturday to step up efforts to eradicate polio worldwide, despite the Afghanistan war setting back vaccination efforts there and in neighboring Pakistan.

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

0 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.