Islamabad: Pakistan today cancelled this year's first anti-polio campaign due to security reasons amid an attack on a polio worker in the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
The anti-polio drive was to begin today in some areas of the Rawalpindi district, the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.
The target of the Short Internal Activity Days (SIAD) campaign, which had to be held in the high-risk union councils of 54 districts, was to vaccinate 8.5 million children.
However, the targeted children would now be covered in the National Immunisation Days (NIDs) campaign from January 19, an official from health department told PTI.
"We are rescheduling the campaign and it will start on January 19 and will be countrywide," he said.
Meanwhile, a polio worker was injured today in a attack when he was going to attend a meeting on polio vaccination in Chamarkand area of Mohmand tribal region in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
An official from the area said that he was attacked through a remote-controlled Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which was planted on the roadside. He was taken to hospital and his condition was critical.
Mohmand tribal region are among Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and foreign militants.
The year 2014 has been the toughest year for Pakistan's anti-polio programme as the number of confirmed cases reached 297, the highest in the country since 1999.
During the past six months, Pakistan recorded the highest number of polio cases followed by Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Pakistan government has come under international criticism for doing little to eradicate the virus which is a threat to the world.
Security is the main reason for the spread of polio virus as vaccination cannot be organised in tribal areas where Taliban still control large areas.
They consider polio medicine as a conspiracy by the West to sterile Muslims.
Over 60 polio workers or police guarding them have been killed in the country in the last two years.