Gunmen kill mother and daughter polio workers in Pakistan
The prime minister of Pakistan condemned the killing of two polio workers this week, calling it “an attack on our future.”
According to reports, gunmen shot and killed a mother and daughter who were immunizing children in the city of Quetta as part of a mass vaccination campaign in one of the few countries left where wild poliovirus still exists.
“Polio teams are rendering a huge national service to save our children from the crippling disease. [An] attack on these dedicated workers, risking their lives for their nation, is an attack on our future,” Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said in a statement.
Since a global initiative to end polio was launched in 1988, a disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children each year has been nearly eradicated. Last year, there were only 22 cases of wild poliovirus worldwide, down from 37 in 2016, according to WHO. This included just eight cases in Pakistan.
Polio also still exists as a wild and not vaccine-derived disease in Afghanistan and Nigeria. In each country, childhood immunization is key to elimination. But the attack in Pakistan was not the first of its kind. Militants have acted violently in all three countries to halt vaccination campaigns. – Gerard Gallagher
Disclosure: Abbasi reports no relevant financial disclosures.