Wed, 23 Oct 2019

Pakistan is launching an emergency anti-polio vaccination campaign after the total number of affected children in the country rose to 41 during 2019.

Pakistani health officials said on July 9 that four new cases of the crippling disease were reported during the previous week in the southwestern province of Balochistan and the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

All of the new cases were attributed to the refusal of parents to allow the children to receive the anti-polio vaccine.

Babar Bin Atta, head of Pakistan's anti-polio program, said the vaccination campaign from July 15 to 18 will be carried out in 12 districts where new cases of polio have been reported.

The United Nations-funded vaccination program has helped Pakistan to control the spread of the disease.

The number of affected children was lowered to 12 in 2018, compared to 304 in 2014.

But militants have killed hundreds of health workers and police guarding them, claiming the vaccines are intended to make Muslim children sterile.

In April, a vaccination campaign ran into trouble when a viral fake video purported to show schoolchildren falling ill after they were given the vaccine.

Atta said his department got an assurance from social-media platforms that anti-polio content would be blocked.

Based on reporting by dpa and AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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