Anti-Polio Drive in Pakistan Continues Despite Shootings Slug: Pakistan polio Date: 20/12/2012 Reporter: Mudassar Shah

INTRO Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio still exists. Last year 30 percent of global polio cases were recorded in Pakistan, but this year the number of incidents of polio has decreased, to only 56 cases. But in the district of Charsadda, in Khyber Pakthunkhawa province, men on motorbikes shot dead a female health worker and her driver who were on their way to vaccinate children. In total, 8 health volunteers have been shot and killed or severely injured in separate attacks during the United Nations-backed anti-polio drive. Mudassar Shah meets a health worker who escaped the shooting near Peshawar in Khyber Pakthunkwa Province. TEXT: 35-year old Aisha Shaker is a health worker in Charsadda. Aisha Shaker clip 1 (Female, Pashtu Language) “We were walking on the roadside to a village to vaccinate children. It was 10 o’clock in the morning when suddenly a motor cycle rider came and started firing at us with a pistol. We all cried for help, I was extremely afraid and worried. I would have been killed if my friend had not pulled me into the nearby drain after the shooting. We knew about incidents in other parts of the country, but we never expected to be attacked in our own village.” She’s happy to be alive, but she’s still afraid. At least 8 polio volunteers have been killed and one is still in a critical condition. The youngest was 17. The aim of the attacks is to stop the UN-backed anti-polio campaign in Pakistan. After the shootings, the United Nations pulled out all staff involved in the campaign. But the government said immunisation was continuing in some areas without UN support, to vaccinate tens of millions of children at risk from polio. Many volunteers refused to go on, including this 17-year-old boy who wants to remain anonymous for security reasons. Boy clip 1 (Male, Pashtu): “I have been working as a polio eradication vaccinator for the last four years. But I’m extremely worried this year since so many people who vaccinate children have been killed. I don’t think I can continue this job any longer, although it’s hard because

The amount is small. Pashtu Language) “We like peace in our area. 56-year old Naseeb Khan Afridi is a tribal elder from Bara Khyber Agency.” No group has claimed responsibility. They are accusing health workers of working as US spies and are claiming the vaccine makes children sterile. But I think I will have to leave this job. because we have peace here now. Urdu Language) “We didn’t receive any information or threats before the incident. Naseeb Khan Afridi clip 1 (Male. Said Akbar Clip 1 (Male. Peace and good health are important for the people. He supports the anti-polio campaign. I can’t say anything about the people who refused the polio vaccination because I don’t know their reason. . I’m too afraid. Women were attacked.” But the local district health officer in Charsada. promises to continue the vaccination program. I will send another group of women for the program soon.the WHO paid me to do so. But a spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban said that they’re not behind the shootings. But no one in the tribal areas has refused the vaccination. so it’s difficult to send the same female workers for the vaccination.” President Zardari condemned the attacks and ordered an investigation into the killings. For Asia Calling. but it helps me to continue my studies. In the tribal area of Khyber Agency. but the Taliban have issued threats against the anti-polio program. Said Akbar. the local authorities have threatened to put parents in jail if they refuse to vaccinate their children. this is Mudassar Shah in Peshawar.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.