International Community Seems Powerless To Stop Attacks On Polio Workers

Noting a number of attacks against polio workers in Pakistan over the past few months, Asif Saeed Memon, an associate fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, writes in a opinion piece, “As a response to the attacks, the governments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suspended the campaign for a short period, while the United Nations removed some of its field personnel until they could receive guarantees of better security.” However, “[p]ublic response was initially slow to emerge,” he continues, adding, “As the full scale of the attacks became apparent and the number of victims increased, outrage grew … It was unclear which government — provincial or federal — was being held responsible.”

“While the debate continued, relevant stakeholders in the eradication campaign got together and realized that the very tool being used to promote polio eradication (the national polio drives) was helping militants target them,” Memon states, noting, “It was decided that instead of pre-announced national polio days, sets of districts would be targeted more quietly in a staggered way.” But this “did not work,” he says, noting, “Polio workers continued to be targeted, one at a time.” He adds, “In Pakistan, an activity which is relatively low-cost in per capita terms, has clear significant benefits for our children and society at large and requires no complicated transfer of technology or highly trained individuals, has become the victim of mass murdering fanatics, and we seem powerless to stop them” (4/14).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.