The week of December 17, 2012 will long be remembered as one of the bloodiest for health workers in recent memory.
That Monday marked the start of an ambitious, three-day vaccination
drive aimed at inoculating some 34 million Pakistani children against
polio, the crippling disease eradicated in almost the entire world, yet
still transmitted there.
But that day also marked the start of a determined campaign of murder
— at least nine people were killed — against the very health workers
trying to save children’s lives.
It was a campaign rooted in a belief that these workers are out to
harm the children they are trying to inoculate. Such misinformation is
actively encouraged by Sunni Muslim extremists like the Pakistan
Taliban, the presumed culprit in the attacks, though the group denies
Ultimately, the mistrust hurts children in some of Pakistan’s most
vulnerable and hardest to reach communities — and threatens to spread
the harm far beyond by keeping the poliovirus alive.
Frustrated by the attacks, and the halting progress towards what the
UN calls the “historic goal” of eradicating polio worldwide, the World
Health Organization has now turned to one of Sunni Islam’s highest
authorities for advice and help.
Written By: Nahlah Ayedcontinue to source article at cbc.ca