“The news that the Central Intelligence Agency had been running a fake vaccination program in Pakistan first surfaced in 2011 and quickly ignited fears that the covert operation could compromise the global campaign to eradicate polio,” Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and…
“The deans of the nation’s top public health schools sent a letter to President Obama on Monday condemning the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of a vaccination campaign ruse in the hunt for Osama bin Laden,” the New York Times reports, noting, “The letter was signed by deans at Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and nine…
“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.
Several news outlets published opinion pieces regarding the recent murders of polio vaccination and other aid workers in Pakistan. The following summarizes two opinion pieces and one editorial on the issue.
“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.”
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).
Pakistan Reports 9th Death In Polio Worker Attacks, Resumes Vaccination Campaign Under Police Escort
“Another victim from attacks on U.N.-backed anti-polio teams in Pakistan died on Thursday, bringing the three-day death toll in the wave of assaults on volunteers vaccinating children across the country to nine, officials said,” the Associated Press reports (Khan, 12/20). “Four female health workers were killed in Karachi, shot dead by masked men on motorbikes. The other five victims, including a 17-year-old volunteer, were slain in Peshawar and Charsadda,” Inter Press Service notes (Yusufzai/Ebrahim, 12/20). The attacks “indicate a threat not only to workers but also to the effort to eradicate the disease — locally and globally,” Scientific American’s “Observations” blog adds (Harmon, 12/20).
The following blog posts were published in response to a series of attacks against polio workers in Pakistan this week, which have left eight dead since Monday.
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling the killing of health workers trying to vaccinate Pakistani children against polio in a U.N.-backed campaign ‘cruel, senseless and inexcusable,'” the Associated Press reports, noting, “Ban said at his year-end news conference [on Wednesday] that the eight killed were among thousands across Pakistan ‘working selflessly to achieve the historic goal of polio eradication'” (12/19). Similarly, “[t]he World Health Organization and UNICEF in their statements have expressed their strong commitment and support to the Government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan in their efforts to rid the country of polio and other diseases,” Pakistan Today writes (12/19).
“Nigeria is one of only three countries — along with Afghanistan and Pakistan — that remains blighted by polio,” Aliko Dangote, founder and CEO of the Dangote Group and chair of the Dangote Foundation, writes in a Project Syndicate opinion piece. He notes Nigeria is “one of Africa’s most developed countries,” “the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Africa,” home to “thriving Nigerian businesses,” and “will soon surpass South Africa to become Africaâ€™s largest economy.” However, “Nigerians cannot hope to lead Africa, economically or otherwise, while neglecting to eliminate preventable diseases like polio,” he writes.