Policemen guarding polio medics shot dead in Pakistan

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On Monday, the provincial government launched the vaccination drive to jab more than a million children up to the age of five…reports Asian Lite News

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed two police officers in Pakistan deployed to guard medics administering the polio vaccine.

The incident took place on Tuesday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Tank district during a door-to-door vaccination drive, dpa news agency quoted a local police official as saying.

He said the gunmen, who were riding a motorcycle, had fled the scene.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Monday, the provincial government launched the vaccination drive to jab more than a million children up to the age of five.

Pakistan had a polio-free run for almost a year but 14 new cases, all from the violence-stricken province, have been reported in the past few months.

Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world where new polio cases still surface, though the number of affected children has declined massively compared to 306 in 2014.

Neighbouring Afghanistan also has a similar problem, with the UK and US both recently recording polio in waste water.

Militants linked to Al Qaeda often attack health workers in Pakistan.

Dozens of vaccine handlers and security officials have been killed by militants in the past.

They accuse the health workers of acting as spies and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.

Earlier this month, Pakistan Federal authorities confirmed that poliovirus was detected in seven cities in several provinces of the country after testing environmental samples from various cities.

The authorities confirmed the presence of the poliovirus in four Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cities after testing the sewage samples of Peshawar, Bannu, Nowshera, and Swat.

As many as 13 cases of polio were confirmed by federal officials in the North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one case was registered in Laki Marwat.

Polio was also detected in sewage samples from Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The results of the testing of environmental samples for polio in several other cities have not been released yet, local media reported.

Notably, cases of more polio infections are suspected to surge as viral circulation is expected to increase from the months of May to September.

According to Rana Safdar, Director General of Pakistan Ministry of National Health Service, six back-to-back polio cases were detected in south KP, depicting an intense ongoing transmission in the zone, reported Dawn newspaper.

Pakistan’s failure to eliminate polio reflects the acute lack of commitment and obligation on the part of the government and society toward saving children from the menace of this devastating disease.

Despite receiving substantial foreign funding and carrying out several campaigns for countering polio over the years, there have been some serious lapses in the state’s efforts to address this pernicious health problem, a media report said.

Moreover, despite numerous supplementary immunisation campaigns, the failures in Pakistan’s polio eradication campaigns are now obscuring the global scenario for a polio-free world.

The problem is rooted in financial and organizational deficits, as well as active conflict and insecurity, which has caused the persistent failure of effective immunization campaigns in the country. (with inputs from IANS/ANI)

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