A World Health Organization (WHO) worker assisting the anti-polio campaign in Pakistan was shot and killed this week. The tragedy comes just days after immunization activities in the area were suspended due to a separate incident in which two WHO staff members were injured when their vehicle was attacked by gunmen.
Pakistan, as one of only three countries where the disease is endemic, is in the middle of a campaign to vaccinate all children under five. Taliban militants in northern Pakistan have barred the vaccination campaign from territory under their control, saying it can’t go forward until the United States stops drone strikes in the country. (Read: Bin Laden Vaccine Ruse and the War on Polio)
Mr. Muhammad Ishaq was shot and killed in the Gadap town area of Karachi on Friday evening. Mr. Ishaq had worked with the national polio eradication effort as a Union Council Polio Worker for several months, helping to plan and implement vaccination campaigns to protect the most underserved and vulnerable children against this debilitating disease.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Polio can be eradicated if every child is immunized until transmission stops worldwide.