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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 U.N. has halted its participation in a Pakistani-run polio vaccination program following attacks on health care workers …, but the government said it would not end the campaign,” NPR’s “The Two-Way” writes, adding, “Officials say the country is committed to seeing polio eradicated and has suspended vaccinations only in Sindh province, where Karachi is located” (Coleman, 12/20). “Under police guard, thousands of health workers pressed on with a polio immunization program Thursday,” the AP writes in a separate article, noting, “The violence risks reversing recent progress fighting polio in Pakistan, one of three countries in the world where the disease is endemic” (Abbot, 12/21).