hat tip-Margo I.
2008-07-27 14:59:03 –
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – A second young girl has tested positive for polio in a northwestern Pakistan valley where militants have warned against vaccinations and security fears will prevent health workers from carrying out a new anti-polio campaign, officials said Sunday.
A three-day polio vaccination campaign for children under age 5 is scheduled to begin Monday in the North West Frontier Province. But the campaign will not be carried out in two areas of the province’s Swat Valley due to uncertainty and deteriorating security in recent days, said Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan, a senior provincial health official.
Common people cannot go there now. How will our (vaccination) teams go? Khan said. He did not say whether militants have issued any new threats against vaccinations in the two Swat areas _ Kabal and Matta _ where Monday’s campaign will not start. A local pro-Taliban cleric, Maulana Fazullah, has said polio vaccinations are a Western conspiracy to make Muslim children infertile.
Militant threats and fighting between insurgents and security forces have prevented anti-polio vaccination campaigns in much of Swat since 2007. Militants have beaten up health workers and issued warnings against vaccinations.
Polio has resurfaced in Swat, where the last case of the disease was reported in 2003.
Khan said an 8-month-old girl was recently diagnosed with polio. Her cousin, also 8 months old, was reported to have polio about 10 days ago.
The two girls are from Ali Gram village, which is located in the militant stronghold of Kabal, Khan said.
The province’s new government has struck a peace deal with Fazlullah supporters in return for a promise that army troops will be withdrawn from Swat. Troops regained control of vast areas of Swat from militants last year.
Polio is endemic in Pakistan, according to the World Health Organization. Pakistani officials hope the disease will be eliminated by the end of this year.
Polio mostly strikes children under age 5 and is spread when people come into contact with the feces of those with the virus. It usually attacks the nervous system, causing paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and sometimes death.