Tuesday July 17, 2018

Pakistan Starts A Nationwide Polio Eradication Drive

Pakistan has to contend with extra suspicion of immunization drives because of the 2011 U.S. special forces raid inside the country that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden

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Polio vaccination must be a right of every child below the age o 6 years.
A boy receives polio vaccine drops during an anti-polio campaign, in a low-income neighbourhood in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA
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Pakistan launched a nationwide polio vaccination drive this week to try to reach 38.7 million children and eradicate the paralyzing and potentially deadly virus in one of the last countries where it is endemic.

Nearly 260,000 volunteers and workers fanned out across Pakistan in an effort to vaccinate every child below the age of five in a week-long campaign, Pakistan’s national coordinator on polio, Mohammad Safdar, said.

“We’re really very close to eradicating the disease,” Safdar told Reuters, appealing to the people to cooperate with the door-to-door effort.

The vaccinators are being provided with a proper kit box for the drive.
A vaccinator with her kit box, waiting for her colleagues at the Polio eradication drive.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, that suffers from endemic polio, a childhood virus that can cause paralysis or death.

In 2018, Pakistan has had just one polio case, reported last month, Safdar said. The number of cases has steadily declined since 2014 when 306 were reported. Last year, there were only eight cases, he said.

Efforts to eradicate the disease have been undermined by opposition from the Taliban and other Islamist militants, who say immunization is a foreign ploy to sterilise Muslim children or a cover for Western spies.

Also Read: Pakistan Faces Daunting Uphill Task Of Deradicalizing Educated Youth

In January, gunmen killed a mother-and-daughter vaccination team working in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, where the year’s only case so far was later reporter.

Three years earlier, 15 people were killed in a bombing by the Pakistani Taliban outside a polio vaccination center in Baluchistan.

Polio teams working on Monday were undeterred.

 

Polio drops must be given to each and every child till the required age.
A child being provided with the polio drops during the drive.

“Yes we feel threatened, but our work is like this,” said Bilquis Omar, who has served on a mobile vaccination team for the past six years in the southern port metropolis of Karachi.

“We are working for the children,” she said.

Aziz Memon, who heads the Rotary Club’s PolioPlus program that funds many of the immunization teams, said this year the drive was also making a renewed effort to reach migrants who come back and forth from Afghanistan.

“Mission number one is to get to zero cases and eradicate polio,” Memon said.

A country must have no cases for three consecutive years in order to be considered to have eradicated polio by the World Health Organization.

Pakistan has to contend with extra suspicion of immunization drives because of the 2011 U.S. special forces raid inside the country that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

A Pakistani doctor was accused of using a fake vaccination campaign to collect DNA samples that the CIA was believed to have been using to verify bin Laden’s identity. The doctor remains jailed in Pakistan, convicted of waging war against state.  VOA

 

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Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India

India has accused Pakistan of cynically exploiting the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the General Assembly

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Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India
Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India. flickr

India has accused Pakistan of cynically exploiting the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the General Assembly while it was discussing an important issue.

“Such cynical attempts have failed in the past and do not find any resonance in this body,” Sandeep Kumar Bayyapu, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission, said on Monday.

He was replying to a reference to Kashmir made by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi during a debate on the Right to Protect People against crimes against humanity.

“While we are having this serious debate for the first time in a decade on an issue that is of importance to all of us, we have witnessed that one delegation has, yet again, misused this platform to make an unwarranted reference to the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Bayyapu said.

“I would like to place on record and reiterate that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India. No amount of empty rhetoric from Pakistan will change this reality,” he added.

Lodhi had said that many of the victims of killings and “mass-blinding” are “in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir” and that they “have the further indignity of living under an illegal and alien occupation”.

Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi. flickr

“Against this backdrop, calls for accountability would invariably smack of double standards and selectivity, especially when egregious crimes including killings and mass-blinding are being committed in full view of the international community,” she said.

However, Lodhi also said: “At its core, the responsibility to protect, is not a license to intervene in external situations, but, is instead, a universal principle of ‘non-indifference’, in keeping with historical context and cultural norms of respective settings.”

Also read: Women-Driven Rickshaw Program Creating Sensation in Pakistan

“We should also be mindful that the notion of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ does not become a mere re-enactment of the discredited ‘humanitarian interventions’ of the past,” she added. (IANS)