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Taliban Ban On Vaccines In Pakistan Affecting Children’s Health

Inter Press Service examines how Taliban control is threatening the lives of children in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), writing, “[T]he Taliban have imposed a complete ban on all vaccines against preventable childhood diseases, including polio — sometimes referred to simply as ‘infantile paralysis’ due to its crippling effects on a child’s nervous system — measles, diphtheria, hepatitis, meningitis, pertussis, influenza and pneumonia.” The news service continues, “Children in all seven agencies of FATA have been the worst affected by the ban on the oral polio vaccination (OPV), which the Taliban have described as a ploy by the United States to render the Muslim population infertile. Over 160,000 children in North Waziristan and 157,000 children in South Waziristan are now at risk of contracting deadly ailments.” The news service describes the effects of the ban, how health care officials are working to educate and vaccinate residents, and how “interventions by clerics are crucial to correcting the misconception that OPV is ‘anti-Islamic.'” Polio remains endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, IPS notes (Yusufzai, 7/11).