Pakistani city launches new polio campaign amid militant threats

January 2, 2017 10:30 pm

A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a door-to-door polio campaign in Karachi on December 19, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

has begun a special five-day polio immunization campaign for children in the southwestern city of Quetta after past programs were met with violence by militants.
Local officials said on Monday that health workers launched the campaign for children under five in the city of Quetta, the volatile provincial capital of Balochistan, on Monday.
Syed Faisal Ahmed, the coordinator of the local Emergency Operation Center, said local officials had recruited Muslim clerics to promote the immunizations for 400,000 children.
“The religious leaders were … asking the people to give their children anti-polio drops in their sermons in the mosques in rural areas of Balochistan,” Ahmed said, adding, “We have achieved major goals in combating polio disease, but still we have to strive more to declare Pakistan a polio-free country.”  
The fresh campaign follows the detection of the rare Type 2 strain of polio in sewage samples taken by the World Health Organization (WHO) in November.
Pakistan is one of just three countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic.
Immunization efforts have in the past been hampered by militant groups. The Taliban in Pakistan have ordered a ban on the polio vaccination campaign, saying that it could be a cover-up for espionage activities by the United States.
Militants have shot dead several medical health officers supervising the polio vaccination campaign in various parts of Pakistan over the past few years.

Pakistani security officials examine the site of a bomb blast near a polio vaccination center in Quetta on January 13, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Last January, a bomber killed at least 15 people outside a vaccination center in Quetta.
In April 2016, militants shot dead seven policemen guarding a polio vaccination team in the southern port city Karachi.
Militant attacks on inoculation teams across Pakistan have claimed more than 100 lives since December 2012.
Despite the attacks, the Pakistani government hopes to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by 2018 by achieving its goal of no new cases for one year.
Skip to toolbar
shared on