Thursday, 14 January 2016

Pakistan: fanatics for polio

There are only two countries in the world where polio is still endemic – Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Pakistan, Muslim extremists are helping it to go on killing and paralysing children by murdering vaccination workers.

In the latest attack this week, at least 15 people were killed by a suicide bomber at an inoculation centre at Quetta in Balochistan. It happened just as medics and the security staff who are needed to protect them had reported for duty before going out on their rounds. Another 20 people were injured.

There were more than 300 cases of polio in Pakistan in 2014, the highest number since 1999, following a series of attacks by extremists. Last year, energetic efforts by the security forces enabled the vaccine teams to penetrate what had previously been no-go areas, and the number of cases fell to 50.

The fanatics claim immunisation is a Western plot to sterilise Pakistani children. As a result of the latest bombing, the vaccination programme in Balochistan has been suspended. (See also my posts of 24 February, 3 March, and 10 December, 2014.)

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