UAE helps Pakistan in anti-polio efforts — Central Asia online com article by Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR – Pakistan, which has long struggled with threats made by militants against oral polio vaccine (OPV) campaigns, is pinning its hopes for eradicating poliomyelitis on a partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A child receives the oral polio vaccine (OPV) from health officials in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on October 3. The United Arab Emirates is providing funding to help Pakistan eradicate polio. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

A child receives the oral polio vaccine (OPV) from health officials in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on October 3. The United Arab Emirates is providing funding to help Pakistan eradicate polio. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

PESHAWAR – Pakistan, which has long struggled with threats made by militants against oral polio vaccine (OPV) campaigns, is pinning its hopes for eradicating poliomyelitis on a partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Lack of vaccination has caused permanent disabilities to 158 children in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in 2014 so far,” FATA Health Director Pervez Kamal said.

About half of the cases resulted from their parents not letting their children receive OPV because they were intimidated by Taliban threats or influenced by misconceptions spread by militants, Dr. Kamal added.

Taliban militants have been very hard on children, depriving them of educational opportunities by attacking schools, or preventing health care by threatening parents and attacking vaccination teams, according to officials.

(…)

Countering the militants’ message

The Taliban oppose the vaccine, saying it is a Western attempt to hold Muslim population growth in check. They propagate the message that OPV can sterilise those who receive it.

“But we have been able to counter the Taliban’s campaign through UAE’s involvement,” religious scholar Muhammad Shah said. “We tell the people that OPV was bought by the UAE; therefore, it was safe.”

With the UAE’s participation in the programme, more Pakistanis are permitting their children receive the vaccine.

 

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