19 June 2013

Community Chooses Energy over Polio Vaccines in Pakistan

Two more polio vaccine workers were shot dead in northwest Pakistan on Sunday. It is the latest attack on polio eradication efforts in Pakistan that extends back to a series of attacks at the end of 2012. The BBC cites 17 polio vaccine worker deaths in the past few months.

Polio is down, but not out in Pakistan. 35 cases of polio were recorded in Pakistan last year. Vaccines play a key role in eradicating polio. The lack of security in Pakistan and uncertain safety for vaccine workers means an estimated 240,000 children have missed polio vaccines, says the UN.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari issued a statement condemning the killings on Monday. He reiterated the government’s commitment to vaccinating children against polio.

“While condemning the death of the two polio volunteers, the president said that such cowardly and inhuman acts of the militants and extremists can not deter the strong resolve of government to eradicate polio from the country,” said Zardari in a statement.

The weekend saw attacks on a bus and a hospital in Quetta. Dialog is possible with groups that are willing to talk, but Zardari administration is taking a hard-line stance against extremists, said Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar to CNN.

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