The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO),has reduced the number paralysed by polio from 350,000 in 1988 to 405 in 2013, and the number of countries where the disease is endemic has been cut from 125 to just 3 –Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. But progress has come to a grinding halt, with Pakistan reporting 174 new cases so far this year out of 193 worldwide.
The WHO says there is a high risk that this highly infectious disease will spread to other parts of the world, paralysing many of its victims.
Three quarters of all cases are reported from two lawless areas of Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KP) and the misleadingly named Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In these provinces terrorists call the shots, intimidating and murdering those who don’t agree with their fundamentalist brand of Islam.
The terrorists and their clerical allies decreed in 2012 that vaccination was a western plot to sterilise Muslim children, and a cover for spies following the use by the CIA of a fake vaccination project to track down Osama bin Laden. A local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur was ‘persuaded’ to ban vaccination in the tribal region of Waziristan in June 2012, and this was endorsed by the chiefs in other tribal areas and in KP.
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