Pakistan polio outbreak hits record high

Pakistan has recorded its highest number of polio cases for
15 years, with health officials blaming the rise on attacks on
immunisation teams.
The number of new cases in 2014 so far is 202, exceeding
the 199 cases in 2001 but short of the 558 cases in 1999.
Most of the infections are in the north-western tribal region
where militants have targeted health teams.
Militants there accuse doctors of being spies and say the
vaccinations are part of a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.
Suspicions over the programmes worsened after the US was
accused of using a fake vaccination programme during its
tracking of al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in
2011.
Since December 2012, about 60 people, including health
workers and police providing security to medical teams,
have been killed by Taliban militants targeting polio teams.
The BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil in Islamabad says the rise in cases
is hugely embarrassing to Pakistan.
The country has failed to curb the disease despite massive
investment on immunisation programmes by the
international community, she adds.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization imposed
travel restrictions on the country meaning all Pakistanis
must now carry proof of vaccination before travelling
abroad.
Pakistan is one of three countries where polio is endemic –
the other two being Afghanistan and Nigeria.

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