Pakistani health officials say the country has suspended a nationwide anti-polio campaign after a health worker and two policemen escorting vaccination teams were killed in separate attacks across the country in less than a week.
Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio is still endemic. The other two are Afghanistan and Nigeria.
But militant threats and deep-rooted superstition have spurred many parents to refuse to vaccinate their children.
Officials say unidentified gunmen targeted polio workers and police assigned to protect them in three separate attacks this past week, in the heavily rural western regions bordering Afghanistan, before fleeing.
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has blamed quack doctors practicing without training and professional certification for an alarming rise in the number of HIV positive patients in the country, the media reported on Wednesday.
The doctors associated with the PMA said that the quacks, especially fake dentists, spread the virus by using instruments that were not sterilized, adding that despite free-of-cost availability of life-saving antiretroviral drugs at government hospitals, mortality ratio among patients carrying the virus was also increasing.
An alarming surge in HIV cases has been witnessed in five districts of Pakistan’s Punjab province, with 70 to 90 cases being reported monthly at the main government health facility in Faisalabad city, Dawn News reported.
Earlier this month, an international team of experts from the World Health Organization kicked off an investigation into the sudden HIV outbreak in Pakistan’s Sindh province after over 700 people were diagnosed with the virus in a matter of weeks, most of them were children.
Following the outbreak, authorities launched a crackdown on unqualified doctors as well as illegal blood banks and laboratories said to be involved in spreading the disease. At least 17 quack doctors were arrested and more than 70 clinics in Larkana district were shut down, according to Xinhua news agency.
According to the PMA, over 600,000 quacks are currently practicing in the country with more than 80,000 based in Punjab province alone.