Islamabad: Over 3.5 million children in Pakistan missed out on polio vaccination this week as the campaigns were overshadowed by the deaths of nine immunisation workers, a UN official has said.
Nine people working on the UN-backed programme were shot dead in Karachi and the northwest this week.
“Out of a total target of 18.5 million for the last polio round, 14.9 million children were vaccinated throughout the country, resulting in over 3.5 million children missed during the campaign,” Dr. Elias Durry, the World Health Organization’s senior coordinator for polio eradication in Pakistan.
“WHO and all the partners in polio eradication salute the bravery of thousands of polio team members in the country who performed their duties in the line of fire to reach the 14.9 million children,” he said.
According to the Express Tribune, Durry said figures showed 1.75 million children were missed in southern Sindh province after the campaign was called off following the killing of four female polio team members in Karachi.
In the insurgency-hit northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province around 700,000 children were missed as a result of the early suspension of the campaign after the deaths of polio team members, he said.
According to the paper, efforts to tackle polio in Pakistan have been hampered over the years by local suspicion about vaccination.
Pakistan, with the population of 180 million, is one of only three in the world where the highly infectious, crippling disease remains endemic and infections shot up from a low of 28 in 2005 to almost 200 last year, the report said.