OUR sTAFF REPORTER/INP
After back-to-back onslaughts on anti-polio squads, authorities Friday decided not to announce/advertise campaigns in Karachi. The authorities took the decision in an emergency meeting that also conditioned an escort for polio field fighters.
On Tuesday, gunmen killed three polio workers in Karachi. On Wednesday, seven people were killed in a bomb attack on a police van taking officials to guard polio vaccination teams in Sir Dheri, some 30 kilometres north of Peshawar.
Militant attacks and threats of violence have badly affected efforts to stamp out the crippling disease in Pakistan, one of only three countries where it remains endemic. Pakistan is among those three countries in the world where polio is still endemic along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. Militant groups see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage and there are also long-running rumours about polio drops causing infertility.
According to the World Health Organisation, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012. On Friday, the WHO warned that Peshawar was the world's "largest reservoir" of polio. Pakistan’s struggles to defeat polio are feeble in contrast to its neighbour and great rival India which celebrated its third year of polio eradication.
Voicing concerns for their colleagues on Thursday, the All Pakistan Lady Health Workers Employees Association Sindh chapter raised 16 demands with the government at a press conference. Flanked by other paramedics’ representatives, association chief Khairun Nisa Memon also raised the demand for an increase in honorarium from Rs250 to Rs1,000 per day.
“More than 30 polio workers have been assassinated doing their duty across the country for the past 18 months among them 7 were murdered in Sindh while the government has turned a blind eye to the issue. The condemnation statements would not bring any outcome.” Other demands include, compensation to bereaved families of decedent polio workers, assistance to injured, regularisation jobs of lady health workers, foolproof security clearance certificate from area SHO before initiating polio vaccination campaign, pick-and-drop service for lady health workers, release of five-month salaries and deployment of Rangers in high-risk areas in the area during the anti-polio campaign.