WHO: ‘Pakistan is one of the taps for poliovirus’ — Deutsche Welle

The World Health Organization has identified Pakistan as one of the countries posing the greatest risk of spreading polio. WHO spokeswoman Sona Bari explains how various international outbreaks are linked to the country.

On May 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of polio an international public health emergency, with three countries identified as posing the greatest risk of further exporting the virus beyond their borders: Syria, Cameroon and Pakistan. Among other things, the organization recommended that the governments of these three states require citizens to obtain a certificate proving they have been vaccinated for polio before traveling abroad.

Syrian health workers administer polio vaccination to a girl at a school in Damascus, in this file photo taken by Syria's national news agency SANA on October 20, 2013.

Bari says virus originating in Pakistan is moving to other countries and paralyzing children



How does the WHO intend to convince people of its vaccination program as there are still widespread public fears in the country that the vaccine leads to infertility?

The Pakistani public actually wants vaccination and has some of the lowest refusal rates in the world (less than one percent nationally). In parts of the country, there is mistrust of outsiders which is channeled into vaccination mistrust and rumors.

Various Islamic Institutions, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Advisory Group for polio eradication, have been leading the work with communities to increase public understanding, access and demand for polio vaccination. Furthermore, a network of thousands of community mobilizers – many of whom are volunteers – are working to reassure parents in their own communities that polio vaccines are safe and effective.


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