PESHAWAR: Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) District Coordinator Dr. Yaqoob was shot dead and his driver injured when unidentified assailants opened fired on his car in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swabi district on Monday morning.

District Police Officer (DPO) Swabi Javed Iqbal Wazir said that Dr. Yaqoob was on the his way to office when unknown motorcyclists shot at his car near Swabi's Zaida Bypass area.

Polio workers have long been targeted due to rumours that the polio immunisation drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. The rumours have made inhabitants of lesser-developed parts of the country more wary of allowing immunisation.

Know more: Lab tests show polio vaccine is not ‘Haram’

These claims were propagated by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, who stepped up attacks targeting polio immunisation teams after Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to set up a hepatitis immunisation drive as part of efforts to track down Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.

Pakistan remains one of only two countries on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) list of polio-endemic countries.

Explore: Pakistan, Afghanistan only countries left on polio-endemic nations list

Although the number of polio cases in Pakistan during 2015 is reported to be 40 ─ down from 224 during the previous year according to the polio control cell ─ the country has been struggling to combat the number of refusals it receives, the spread of polio via air and land routes as well as what appears to be the declining quality of the immunisation campaign.

Read: Refusals, repatriation and remissness: Why Pakistan is still a polio-endemic country



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