Firing in Peshawar kills anti-polio drive in-charge, injures official

Gunmen have frequently attacked polio vaccination workers, accusing them of being Western spies. PHOTO: REUTERS/FIL

Gunmen have frequently attacked polio vaccination workers, accusing them of being Western spies. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE.

PESHAWAR: Anti-polio drive in-charge Zahir Shah was killed and another official was injured when unidentified men opened fire at Matni hospital in Peshawar, Express News reported Saturday.

The injured official’s identity is not known as yet.

The attacks come despite a recent fatwa by a prominent religious scholar, who urged parents to immunise their children against polio and other life-threatening diseases and said vaccinations were compliant with Sharia.

Gunmen have frequently attacked polio vaccination workers, accusing them of being Western spies and part of a plot to sterilise Muslims.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, but efforts to stamp out the crippling disease have been hit by repeated attacks on health teams.

A global eradication campaign has reduced polio cases by 99.9 per cent in the last three decades, but it remains endemic in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The disease is highly infectious and can cause irreversible paralysis.

Officials blame the violence and suspicions about the vaccine for a surge in cases. According to the World Health Organisation, Pakistan recorded 72 cases of polio this year compared to 58 in 2012.

Source: The Express Tribune

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