In an extremely disturbing incident, a man unleashed his dog on a dengue surveillance team when they found dengue larva in his house in Multan on Thursday. The dog viciously attacked the dengue team injuring two female team members. While the police have taken the incident into notice, it is unfortunate that health workers continue to be mistreated, not just by extremists but people unwilling to protect themselves and their communities from public health epidemics.

The attacks against health workers have intensified in the pas two years. In April 2016, seven police officers were killed while protecting health workers who were vaccinating children against polio in the city of Karachi. The particularly violent crime was carried out by eight militants on four motorcycles, who opened fire on health officers who had stopped for food. Attacks on health centers have risen as well. The World Health Organization released its first report on the subject a few months ago, stating that around 1,000 people have been killed in these attacks in a period of two years; and over 40 percent of the attacks have taken place in Syria, with Pakistan following lead.

It is shameful that Pakistan falls in the category of the likes of war torn Gaza, the West Bank, Iraq, and Libya in terms of attacks on health care centers. In Pakistan, 91 health workers and security personnel guarding vaccination teams have been killed since 2012, according to a coordinator at the National Emergency Operation Centre for Polio in the capital, Islamabad. These frontline workers who are protecting the Pakistani population against diseases like Polio as well as Dengue deserve to be appreciated. They are doing an important public service, mostly from the good of their hearts rather than for the small government salaries they get, and must be respected and aided in their efforts.