Thousands join vaccination campaign for polio in Pakistan

More than 100,000 health workers join vaccination teams, despite threats against vaccination campaign in Pakistan

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A baby receives polio vaccine drops at a government children's hospital in Peshawar, March 3, 2015.

Pakistan continues to fight against the polio virus as more than 100,000 health workers scattered through Pakistan on Monday to step up vaccinations, despite militants threatening vaccination groups.  

The polio virus causes irreversible paralysis within hours of infection and usually spreads among young children, which is currently endemic in only Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Polio infected cases have been declining Pakistan following its upsurge in 2014 with only 54 cases recorded last year. Health care workers are in effect to vaccinate every child in the country until the end of May.

Militants have attempted to prevent health workers efforts by attacking them on several occasions. The last one happened in January when a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people outside a polio eradication centre in Quetta and two militant groups, Pakistani Taliban and Jundullah, claimed responsibility.

The militant groups claim vaccination campaign are done by Western spies or the vaccines are designed to sterilise children.

This image on vaccinations originates from the use of vaccination campaigns to spy on Osama bin Laden.

With improving community acceptance and the support of the security forces, attacks towards the immunisation teams have declined, said leaders of the national anti-polio campaign and security personnel.

A community health worker, Zubaira Bibi, said that the fear has disappeared, since people in the area know them.

Nevertheless, there are still parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, says Rehana Bibi, who visits homes in the Sultanabad neighbourhood in Karachi.

“But we try to convince them that there is no harm in giving drops to children.”

TRTWorld and agencies