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Taliban polio ban puts 240,000 Pakistani children at risk

Published Jul 14, 2012 05:28am


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The file image shows a health worker in the field for anti-polio campaign. – AP Photo

PESHAWAR: A Taliban ban on polio vaccinations will put 240,000 children at risk in troubled northwest Pakistan if an inoculation campaign cannot start next week, officials warned on Friday.

Local Taliban and Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose followers are fighting Western troops in Afghanistan, have banned polio vaccinations in the northwestern tribal region of Waziristan to protest against US drone attacks.

They have condemned the immunisation campaign, which is slated to begin on Monday, as a cover for espionage.

“There is possibility that we may have to skip the polio campaign in North and South Waziristan because we are not getting clearance from the army nor is the situation conducive,” a government health official told AFP.

“We have threats from the Taliban. Going to these areas for a polio campaign would be tantamount to putting the lives of our staff in jeopardy,” added the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi was jailed for 33 years in May after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme as cover.

Fawad Khan, director of health services in the tribal belt, told AFP that at least 160,000 children in North Waziristan and 80,000 in South Waziristan would be affected if polio drops are not administered.

Talks are ongoing between administrators and the Taliban, but health workers had “not yet received the green light” for going ahead in Waziristan, he added.

But a senior security official said tribal elders would on Monday discuss how to launch the campaign.

In South Waziristan, where the army fought local Taliban in 2009, the official said “it should not be difficult” to vaccinate children “at least in areas where displaced persons have returned”.

The Lancet medical journal has said vaccination problems led last year to Pakistan's highest number of polio cases in a decade, 198, compared to 144 in 2010.

Polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

The highly infectious disease affects mainly the under-fives and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. Some cases can be fatal.


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Comments (29) Closed

TruthBeTold Jul 15, 2012 07:18pm
The TALIBAN shouldn't have the power and ability to BAN anything. They aren't a Governing body or elected to anything anywhere. It's time to call them by what they are, an illegal Gang or MOB. If you have to FORCE people to like you or believe as you do, then you don't belong there. Keep your thoughts in your own homes. Eliminating The Taliban will take courage and a resolve unlike any before, much like England had to do with the IRA of old.
latif Jul 14, 2012 10:51am
Not if the object is to kill a terrorist.
yousaf Jul 16, 2012 11:28am
Since when is america so concerned about Pakistani lives? Don't you have your own problems? Many Americans can't pay their medical expenses but you are willing to spend millions on Pakistani kids, while in the same time you pay millions in promotional video's etc promoting birth control. Do you know that Pakistani fathers get arrested if they stop the docters from giving these vaccines to their own children! Why is it so important for you to let our children ingest a vaccine that is BANNED in your own country? Extremist are those that are forcing their ideology and will upon people world wide, Muslims didn't invade the US, no the US invades and bombs force your way of life upon us. Not the other way around!
Jimmu Butt Jul 14, 2012 10:34am
state within a state! what would it take to wake this nation from a deep slumber
hunain Jul 15, 2012 01:30pm
its OUR responsibility to take every initiative to provide those kids anti polio vaccination..nd its upto federal govt. that they should take action aginst these terrorist.
Mehdi Jul 15, 2012 03:27pm
Sir Zaid Hamid himself is a big proponent of the Taliban and unfortunately so is Imran Khan. Only God can help save Pakistan.
Ahsan E. Jul 14, 2012 12:16pm
To protest the killing of innocent children and women by US drone attacks the Taliban will risk the lives of the innocent children yet again by not letting the polio campaign go through? Tragic state of affairs
zafarov Jul 16, 2012 05:06am
@ Zakir "We want Sir Zaid Hamid to be our prime minister - then all these problem will be solved" Of course they will. By committing collective suicide.
Ian Fairley Jul 14, 2012 06:37am
Here we go again, grown men exercising their power over the women and chilren, brutality at its worst because they do it in the name of religion, put these hero's in front of proper men and they use the children as a shield to hide behind.
Salma Jul 14, 2012 06:42am
Balochistan has the highest number of polio cases and is the most at risk but Pakistani media has just decided to make it a militancy related issue of FATA only. Please don't construct half truth which does not and will not help.
Ali S Jul 14, 2012 07:04am
For what we can do right now, how about making sure that all IDP children in refugee camps are given polio drops.
mir Jul 14, 2012 07:05am
Pure Heart Jul 15, 2012 11:10am
Mahatma Gandhi said an eye for an eye make the whole world blind. Pakjam should think whether he want to join among these group of people. Wake up! give some positive, rational and true feedback... then people around you also get that sense of truth. If you don't dare to talk truth then stay quite! Its good for everybody else till you get wisdom. There may be reasons for your justifications but they r rather less important than the true need. If u see a kid grow with less body imperfections who could protect his parents; provide his family a reasonable living or protect country with his full potential. Otherwise will become part of unfortunate polio driven person with disabilities which you can not imagine. Probably you are one of rich in Pakistani who could only inflict such reasonings. I recommend you to read Quran & get some wisdom. -PureHeart
Beau carrel Jul 14, 2012 08:27am
If we swopped all the war machinery for good housing, pure water and sanitation and good nutrition then these diseases would go away as they did in europe before vaccinations commenced.
shrikanth Jul 14, 2012 08:39am
Zakir Jul 14, 2012 08:48am
We want Sir Zaid Hamid to be our prime minister - then all these problem will be solved
madiha Jul 14, 2012 09:23am
it means, we lost the happines of all these innocent children . who will be responsible ?
PakJam Jul 14, 2012 09:55am
As Taliban ban on polio vaccination is condemn able, at the same time US using polio vaccination campaigns as espionage is also condemn able.
TeeKay Jul 15, 2012 01:27pm
I wonder where Difa-e-Pakistan council are at moments like these...
adnan Jul 14, 2012 04:17pm
So you are saying that the ends justify the means. The irrational ban by the Taliban is a direct consequence of the irresponsible actions by the CIA and the breach of medical ethics by Dr. Afridi.
john Jul 14, 2012 05:07pm
The problem in Pakistan is that when you have a corrupt government, you are probably going to have a corrupt `free`vaccine system. They say nothing is free in life, the fact is that the B&MG Foundation has admitted the need for vaccines to control global population, and they are supporting this program in Pakistan. Pakistan supports Population Control, hence its no wonder that they would support this program. While in the first-world, you get non-oral based Polio vaccines, there are cases of this Oral Polio program used in India that has caused a 1200% increase in Childhood Paralysis since the last decade.
Tanwir Rao Jul 14, 2012 07:22pm
Imagine the life of children who may suffer because this action then have look your own child.
Huma Jul 14, 2012 10:01pm
Pakistan needs nation builders, and not madrassah-educated graduates whose narrow mindedness and religious fanaticism are destroying the nation. What exactly is the government and politicians, including the pompous and high-sounding Imran Khan doing? Instead of leading a so-called "peace caravan", which will definitely include many extremists tarned as protestors, IK should worry about the health of these innocent children whose lives could be devastated if they are struck by polio. Shame, shame! We live in a stone age.
Cyrus Howell Jul 15, 2012 03:28am
Even Africans in the deepest jungles want polio vaccinations for their children.
Cyrus Howell Jul 15, 2012 03:30am
Who will be responsible to God?
NASIR Jul 15, 2012 05:07am
The polio crew is out there getting DNA samples of kids and conducting espionage. Even though i have never supported Taliban and never will this is to note that ..its Pakistani government that is putting these kids at risks not Taliban's. Polio drops require close to none administration. Taliban has demanded that the polio medicine should be supplied to their local hospitals as they dont trust the workers that are coming in their towns as undercover these officials are passing information to the agencies that are causing these drone attacks.
Javed Jul 16, 2012 05:45am
By putting the life and health of thousand of children in danger, Taliban have clearly indicated how cruel and evil people they are. It is equally disappointing that none of the religious and political leaders has condemned this evil act and thereby they indirectly support this barbaric act.
balachandran Jul 16, 2012 05:52am
who will be responsible. few had asked this question. None other than the rulers who radicalized Pakistan.
prabhjot Jul 16, 2012 07:08am
Hi i m from India and shame the government media and citizens that how they let the talibanis freely roaming all over the state all pakis must stand together to vanish out this problem otherwise the future of the country which depends on children will go in dark