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False Information, Attacks On Health Workers Hindering Polio Efforts In Pakistan

Deutsche Welle examines how “[a]ttacks against health workers and the willful dissemination of false information are deterring the fight against polio in Pakistan.” “While in the rest of the world polio vaccines have reduced the number of polio cases, polio vaccination teams are endangered by al Qaeda extremists in Pakistan, who tell parents it’s dangerous for their children to get vaccinated,” the news agency writes, adding, “As a result, hundreds of thousands of children are not being vaccinated, posing the threat of a comeback for the disease.” According to the news service, “More than 36,000 parents have refused vaccination for their children this year alone, the majority of them in tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan.” The news service highlights “false information” being spread by Islamist groups, noting they are “threatening parents and telling them to not have their children vaccinated,” and discusses violence against health workers in the country, writing, “This year alone, 11 polio health workers were shot in different cities throughout Pakistan.” The news service adds, “With new infections, Pakistan could be labeled as a state unwilling to help create a polio-free world,” which “could not only have direct consequences on international financial assistance, but could also damage Pakistan’s foreign policy” (Sumbal, 11/8).