Polio Cases Jump in Pakistan Amid Taliban Vaccination Ban


Pakistan reported 11 new cases of polio on a single day last week, bringing this year’s official count to 138, a four-fold increase from last year, as the crippling disease spreads amid Islamist militancy and suspicion.

All the cases were reported in the north, Ayesha Raza Farooq, head of the Prime Minister’s Monitoring & Coordination Cell for Polio, said by phone in Islamabad. Eight came from tribal areas that lie on the border with Afghanistan.

Once driven to the brink of extinction, the polio virus has mounted a comeback in some parts of the world, prompting the World Health Organization to declare its spread a global health emergency in May. Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria pose the greatest risk of exporting the virus to other countries and should ensure that residents have been vaccinated before they travel, the WHO said at the time.

A ban on vaccinations by a Taliban leader in retaliation for U.S. drone strikes, and attacks on health-care workers after a fake vaccination campaign was used to hunt down Osama bin Laden, have hurt eradication efforts and enabled polio to spread inside Pakistan.

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