Op-Ed

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

The Taliban Are Winning the War on Polio

Authors: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, and Maxine Builder, Research Associate, Global Health
February 12, 2014
ForeignPolicy.com

Share

This week's tragic reappearance of polio in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, after 13 years, poses serious questions about the future of health in the country following the scheduled withdrawal of United States military personnel at the end of 2014. Without their military escorts and protection, humanitarian and non-governmental aid organizations are expected to draw down foreign personnel as well.

Although the polio vaccine is safe, vaccination remains a sensitive topic in the region and aid workers face a mounting wave of cultural challenges. Some militants believe the common misconception that vaccinations are against Islamic law or are administered as part of a broader American plot to sterilize children or infect them with HIV. Taliban in Pakistan have been attacking polio workers and their security teams since it was revealed in 2011 the CIA used a fake Hepatitis B vaccine campaign in Abbottabad as part of an attempt to obtain blood samples from Osama bin Laden's children in order to confirm the al Qaeda chief's location.

Despite the Pakistani government's efforts to provide police protection, at least 31 polio vaccination workers have been killed in Pakistan since July 2012. (Police and security personnel working with them have also been shot at, wounded, and killed.) These attacks, unfortunately, have had their desired effect. Along with systemic problems in supply chains and personnel management, the intimidation and violence have increasinglyled mothers to opt out of all kinds ofvaccines, and have stymied health efforts; outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, have increased. And as a result, polio remains unchecked in several provinces, particularly in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.


View full text of article.

More on This Topic

Article
Campaign 2012

Campaign 2012

The Nixon Test

Author: Daniel S. Markey
Indian Express

Prospects for a smooth handover of security to Afghan authorities appear dismal, but new leadership from Washington could improve this...

Op-Ed

Afghans Don't Hate America

Author: Max Boot
Wall Street Journal

Max Boot argues that despite the recent protests over the burning of Qurans, Afghans do not want a return of the Taliban--and they don't hate...

Must Read

Foreign Policy: From Bad to Worse

Author: Anand Gopal

Anand Gopal argues that the recent attacks on a Shia Muslim procession in Afghanistan, which killed fifty-eight people, are only the latest...