Muslim Hate of Vaccinations
Vulnerable Khyber Agency: Polio volunteers pull out in wake of latest murder
By Asad Zia
Published: December 23, 2013
Volunteer polio vaccinators have backed away from the next immunisation drive in Khyber Agency after the murder of anti-polio campaign supervisor Ghilaf Khan on Saturday in Jamrud. Without their assistance, thousands of children will remain unprotected against the crippling virus.
and Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) staff have been gripped by
fear after Ghilaf was targeted, Dr Usman Afridi, field supervisory
medical officer for the EPI, told The Express Tribune.
said 328 mobile teams – each comprising 2 volunteers – were meant to be
part of the polio campaign in the agency. “But after the incident on
Saturday, the volunteers have quit, saying their lives are at risk,” he
to Afridi, volunteers’ pulling out midway through the anti-polio drive
would mean thousands of children would not be immunised against polio
in Khyber Agency.
was the fourth polio volunteer targeted in the month of December in
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
On December 13, polio worker Yousaf Khan was gunned down, also in Jamrud, Khyber Agency. Yousaf was on his way home from fieldwork when he was murdered. The same day, two policemen were gunned down in Swabi while they were on escort duty with polio immunisation team.
what seems to be a successful guerrilla war on hapless polio workers,
forms of soft power are being used to cajole wary parents, fearful
workers and recalcitrant local religious figures to help increase the
rate of vaccinations.
Ghilaf’s death, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said he
would not be scared into abandoning the issue of polio vaccinations.
Imran had recently kicked off an inoculation campaign in the K-P.
Maulana Samiul Haq of Darul Uloom Haqqania issued a decree recently,
urging parents to immunise their children against polio. He announced
the vaccination used is “Shariah compliant.”
17,138 refusal cases were reported during December 19 -21 polio
vaccination drive held across nine districts of the province, a K-P
health department official told The Express Tribune.
said 5,193 refusal cases were reported from Bannu, 4,280 from Lakki
Marwat, 3,234 from Nowshera, 2,265 from Mardan, 1,508 from Peshawar,
368 from Hangu, 170 from Tank, 109 from Kohat, and 11 from Karak.
official said while the department faced mounting pressure from the
government, the militants – on the flip side – were taking it out on
polio teams, one worker at a time.
EPI personnel feel compelled to quit in the face of security risks and
high pressure. Even with additional security and money, volunteers and
teachers who double as vaccinators are not willing to take part in the
campaign. This leaves the department in a quandary, he said.
resolving security issues, poliovirus cannot be eradicated from
Pakistan, stated the official. According to an EPI official, Pakistan
has recorded 77 polio cases in 2013, compared to 58 in 2012.
About Ghilaf Khan
of the late supervisor, Ghilaf Khan, the EPI field supervisory medical
officer Dr Usman Afridi said Ghilaf had left behind his widow and three
sons. According to Afridi, Ghilaf was known for his honesty and
punctuality. Ghilaf joined the EPI in May 2011 as a supervisor and was
a resident of Bara tehsil.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2013.
Nigerian reporters, cleric held after polio clinic killings
Their comments incited violence, police allege
By Salisu Rabiu
FEBRUARY 13, 2013
KANO, Nigeria — Police in northern Nigeria arrested and charged two radio journalists and a local cleric alleged to have sparked the killings of at least nine women gunned down while trying to administer polio vaccines, officials said Tuesday. Police asserted that their on-air comments about a vaccination campaign in the area inflamed the region and caused the attacks.
The allegations against the journalists working for Wazobia FM show the continuing struggle over free speech in Nigeria, a nation that came out of military rule only in 1999 and where simply taking photographs on the street can get a person arrested. Though Nigeria has a rambunctious free press, threats and attacks against journalists remain common, and unsolved killings of reporters still haunt the country.
On Friday in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north, gunmen in three-wheel taxis attacked women preparing to give the oral-drop vaccines to children, killing at least nine, police said. Witnesses later said they saw at least 12 dead from the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though suspicion immediately fell on the sect known as Boko Haram, which is waging a campaign of guerrilla shootings and bombings across northern Nigeria.
A few days before the killings, Wazobia FM aired a program in which presenters talked about how one of the station’s journalists had been attacked by local officials and had his equipment confiscated after coming upon a man who refused to allow his children to be vaccinated. The journalists and the cleric on the program apparently discussed the fears people have about the vaccine, which then spread through the city.
Kano state police commissioner Ibrahim Idris ordered the journalists and the cleric arrested immediately after Friday’s attack.
Initially, Idris said the journalists would face charges of ‘‘culpable homicide’’ over the polio workers’ deaths. Those charges can carry the death penalty. However, at an arraignment hearing Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors brought lesser charges that included conspiracy, inciting a disturbance, and obstruction of a public servant. Magistrate Ibrahim Bello ordered a follow-up hearing Thursday.
Onimisi Adaba, operation manager for Wazobia FM and its sister stations, later said that the radio group was ‘‘fully aware of the situation.’’
‘‘We are presently attending to the matter,’’ Adaba said. He declined to comment further.
There have long been suspicions about the polio vaccine in northern Nigeria, with people believing the drops would sterilize young girls.
In 2003, a Kano physician heading the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria said the vaccines were ‘‘corrupted and tainted by evildoers from America and their Western allies.’’ That led to hundreds of new infections in children across the north, where beggars on locally made wooden skateboards drag their withered legs back and forth in traffic, begging for alms. The 2003 disease outbreak in Nigeria eventually spread throughout the world, even causing infections in Indonesia.
Today, Nigeria is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, the others being Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Gunmen kill 5 women working on polio campaign opposed by Taliban in Pakistan
By Associated Press
December 17, 2012
KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen shot dead five women working on U.N.-backed polio vaccination efforts in two different Pakistani cities on Tuesday, officials said, a major setback for a campaign that international health officials consider vital to contain the crippling disease but which Taliban insurgents say is a cover for espionage.
is one of only three countries where polio is endemic. Militants
however accuse health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and claim
the vaccine makes children sterile. Taliban commanders in the troubled
northwest tribal region have also said vaccinations can’t go forward
until the U.S. stops drone strikes in the country.
Insurgent opposition to the campaign grew last year after it was revealed that a Pakistani doctor ran a fake vaccination program to help the CIA track down al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in the town of Abbottabad in the country’s northwest.
The Taliban have targeted previous anti-polio campaigns, but this has been a particularly deadly week. The government is in the middle of a three-day vaccination drive targeting high risk areas of the country as part of an effort to immunize millions of children under the age of five.
“Such attacks deprive Pakistan’s most vulnerable populations — especially children — of basic life-saving health interventions,” said a statement jointly released by the government and the U.N. “We call on the leaders of the affected communities and everyone concerned to do their utmost to protect health workers and create a secure environment so that we can meet the health needs of the children of Pakistan.”
The women who were killed Tuesday — three of whom were teenagers — were all shot in the head at close range. Four of them were gunned down in the southern port city of Karachi, and the fifth in a village outside the northwest city of Peshawar. Two men who were working alongside the women were also critically wounded in Karachi.
The attacks in Karachi were well-coordinated and occurred within 15 minutes in three different areas of the city that are far apart, said police spokesman Imran Shoukat. In each case, the gunmen used 9 millimeter pistols. Two of the women were teenagers, aged 18 and 19, and the other two were in their 40s, he said.
Two of the women were killed while they were in a house giving children polio drops, said Shoukat. The other two were traveling between houses when they were attacked, he said.
On Monday another person working on the anti-polio campaign, a male volunteer, was gunned down in Karachi. Taliban militants also killed three soldiers in an ambush of an army convoy escorting a vaccination team in the northwest.
Officials in Karachi responded to the attacks by suspending the vaccination campaign in the city, said Sagheer Ahmed, the health minister for surrounding Sindh province. The campaign started on Monday and was supposed to run through Wednesday, he said.
Immunization was suspended in Karachi in July as well after a local volunteer was shot to death and two U.N. staff were wounded.
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