Fighting polio under shadow of guns
Polio vaccine being administered in Bajaur subdivision of FATA province in PakistanAshfaq Yusufzai
A healthworker is giving oral polio vaccine to a childAshfaq Yusufzai
Health workers carry vaccine bags during Sehat Ka Insaf (Justice for Health) programme in April 2014, when three million children were vaccinated in a single dayAshfaq Yusufzai
A local lawmaker administers oral polio vaccine to a child in PeshawarAshfaq Yusufzai
Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (Movement for Justice Party) Imran Khan gives OPV to a child. Khans party governs the KPK where the disease is endemicAshfaq Yusufzai
A child gets oral polio vaccine in Charsadda, a district where militants have killed four health workers, since December 2012Ashfaq Yusufzai
To invalidate Talibans claim that OPV is against Islam, Pakistan government organised a conference of religious scholars in June 2014 in IslamabadAshfaq Yusufzai
A local cleric administers OPV in Bannu district. The government has enlisted support of religious leaders to challenge The Talibans claim that OPV is against IslamAshfaq Yusufzai
This is a new strategy that the Pakistan government has adopted to protect health workers from Taliban militants. FATA is one of the most challenging places to administer polio vaccine.
The Taliban have banned polio vaccination in the region since June 2012. The militants have killed 71 people in polio-related incidents since December 2012.
Despite regular polio vaccination campaigns since 1994, Pakistan registered the highest number of polio cases at 306 in 2014. In 2015 alone, four cases of polio have already been detected in the neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries responsible for the movement of the poliovirus to countries long declared polio-free.
Altaf Bosan, head of Pakistan’s vaccination programme says, “A committee comprising of police, army and health officials have been planned that will ensure full protection of the vaccinators. For each three-day door-to-door campaigns, about 5,000 police personnel will be deployed.”
WHO recommends 95 per cent vaccination among children under an age of five. The Pakistani government has been claiming that they have already reached the WHO-recommended target, even though more cases continue to emerge.