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7 More Health Workers Killed In Pakistan In Attacks Suspected To Be Linked To Murders Of Polio Vaccinators

“Gunmen ambushed and shot dead six Pakistani women aid workers and a male doctor on Tuesday, police said, and the charity they worked for said it suspected the attacks were linked to recent murders of polio vaccination workers,” Reuters reports. “Two weeks ago, gunmen killed nine health workers taking part in a national polio vaccination drive in a series of attacks,” the news agency notes (Ahmad/Houreld, 1/1). The murders of the polio workers “brought the work of 225,000 vaccinators to a standstill,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Polio eradication officials have promised to regroup and try again. But first they must persuade the killers to stop shooting workers and even guarantee safe passage.” The newspaper examines the history of resistance to polio vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Mali (McNeil, 12/24).

Killing Of Polio Workers In Pakistan Is Major Setback For Global Elimination Drive

“The brutal assassination of nine grassroots level health workers in Pakistan, who were involved in a door-to-door immunization campaign in an attempt to secure children from crippling polio, adds an unprecedentedly grave dimension to the ongoing carnage in Pakistan,” Sania Nishtar, founder of Heartfile, Heartfile Health Financing, and the recently launched Sania Nishtar Health Fund, writes in an opinion piece in the Huffington Post U.K.’s “Impact” blog. “[T]he occurrence has deep-seated implications for the global drive to eliminate an infectious disease for a second time from this planet,” she continues, adding, “Additionally, it illustrates the nature of polarization, mistrust and extremism, which has crept into the Pakistani society, posing challenges on many fronts, beyond public health.”

Protection Of Health Workers Necessary To Eradicate Polio

“The murders of charity and aid workers in Pakistan has dealt a devastating blow to a national campaign to wipe out polio and other deadly diseases,” a New York Times editorial states. “No one has claimed responsibility for the most recent attack, but suspicions point to the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups that have opposed the vaccination drives, calling them a cover for government or international spies, or part of a plot to sterilize Muslim children,” the editorial says.

Bill Gates Tours Ghana’s Health System, Discusses Polio Eradication

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “is currently in Ghana to assess the country’s health systems,” Ventures Africa reports. Gates “touched down in Accra March 25, 2013, and says he is in Ghana to get firsthand information on why the country’s immunization system is working so…

Parents, Officials In Pakistan Working To Bring Polio Vaccine To Areas Under Militant Control

“Parents and officials are going to great lengths to immunize children after militants imposed a ban on polio vaccinations in Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan Agency,” with some parents “traveling long distances to get their children vaccinated” or “smuggling the vaccine back home,” IRIN reports. “Militants in the area banned all polio vaccinations…