What Polio and Missing Schoolgirls Have in Common

Thursday, May 8, 2014
In an interview with the CBC this week, a World Health Organization official delicately blamed “the suspension of the vaccine in one area,” as if Pakistani health officials had committed some sort of careless lapse. This sort of airbrushing ignores the real cause, which is the systematic war the Taliban is waging against female health workers. Since July, 2012, at least 31 polio vaccination workers have been killed and many others have quit in fear of their and their families’ lives.

In Pakistan's Polio Epicenter, Workers Struggle against Threats and Suspicion

Friday, May 9, 2014
Health workers in Peshawar face militant attacks and resistance from some locals. Pakistan is one of three nations where the virus is spreading beyond its borders. On the second floor of a local dispensary in Peshawar, Dr. Sheda Hussain stands in front of a 50-person immunization team of female health workers and technicians. Flicking through three Power Point presentations, he guides them through the process they must follow during their visits to homes around the city.

Kidnapped Anti-Polio Team Freed in FR Tank

Thursday, May 1, 2014
TANK: The kidnappers set free the six employees of the World Health Organisation who had been kidnapped from the Pang area on February 17, an official said on Wednesday. Assistant Political Agent, Frontier Region Tank, Nasir Khan, told reporters that the anti-polio team, including Dr Khandad, in-charge of the Union Council Siddiqullah, driver Kalim, three Levies personnel — Lance Naik Daulat Khan, Sepoy Amanullah and Sepoy Minhas — had left for the Pang area at 8 am to administer the anti-polio drops to children when they were kidnapped on February 17.

Attempted Kidnapping: Two Female Polio Workers Saved by Locals

Thursday, May 1, 2014
BANNU: Unidentified armed men attempted to kidnap two female polio workers in Howaid area of Bannu on Wednesday before letting them go with a warning. The workers were let go after the mediation of locals but with the warning that they would be killed if seen vaccinating children in the area again. An official of the Howaid police station, Fidaullah Wazir, said Taj Bibi and Gohar Taj complained to the police that they were immunising children in Mamakhel when three armed men approached them.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014
These days, policeman with AK-47s don't look out of place during a polio immunization campaign in Pakistan. Neither do elite counterterrorism forces staffing impromptu neighborhood checkpoints, while health workers conduct vaccination drives. On a February weekend in Karachi, camouflaged paramilitary soldiers cordoned off a neighborhood known as Gadap Town, shut down two lanes of traffic, and refused entry to all non-residents. Motorbikes were temporarily banned, because of the frequency with which militants use them in drive-by shootings.

Hand Grenade Attack on Polio Supervisor's House

Monday, April 28, 2014
Two women were killed and 2 children sustained injuries, when unidentified men hurled a hand grenade on a house located in the limits of Suru police station today. According to the police sources, in the limits of Suru police station, few unknown armed men threw a hand grenade on the house of a Polio Supervisor Falak Niyaz, as a result of which two women got killed and two children were seriously injured.

Health Workers Murdered as Pakistan Vaccinates

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Despite an army of police, vaccination workers in Pakistan are still being murdered in the midst of a public health initiative aimed at vaccinating 8.4 million children in one province against polio and several other diseases in just three months. The Health for All vaccination program, which runs Feb. 2 through April, is targets indigenous wild poliovirus, which is still endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Of the three countries, only Pakistan is seeing an increase in cases. In January 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, “the world's largest reservoir of endemic poliovirus.”

The Shots Heard Around the World

Friday, April 4, 2014
New shots are jeopardizing humanity’s battle to eradicate polio, and they don't include syringes or vaccines. Rather, they’re the gunshots of Islamic terrorists. The fight to eliminate polio is now imperiled, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), by “insecurity, targeted attacks on health workers and/or a ban by local authorities on polio immunization,” and violence in the Middle East. In a March 2014 report, the organization warned that the virus, which existed in only three countries at the dawn of 2012, is now returning to places from which it had been eradicated, and “risk of further international spread remains high, particularly in central Africa (especially from Cameroon), the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa.”

Attack on Polio Team: Female Worker Killed in Bannu

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
A female polio worker was gunned down by two armed men on a motorcycle in the cantonment area of Bannu on Monday. The shooting occurred at around 8:30 in the morning, according to Deputy Superintendent of Police Sanaullah Khan Marwat. Marwat identified the victim as Fehmida Yasmeen, wife of Sattar Shah, a resident of Sokari Zabita Khan. Yasmeen was shot dead while she was going to a market near Abi Talha Masjid in Bannu cantonment.

Pakistan Polio Vaccinator's Murder by Militants Raises Health Workers' Fears

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The unusual night-time kidnapping and brutal murder of a female polio vaccinator in the troubled Pakistani city of Peshawar has heightened fears among health workers struggling to stamp out the virus in the face of violent opposition from militant groups. The body of Salma Farooqi, a 30-year-old who had been involved for years in Peshawar’s battle against polio, was recovered from a field 4km (2.5 miles) from her home on Monday, a day after armed men stormed her house, tied up family members and took her away.