Attacks on Medical Staff

It has been reported that UN Aid staff are being moved out of Pakistan and the country’s Polio program has been halted due to a series of attacks by insurgents specifically aimed at killing aid workers working to eliminate Polio.

So far four women have died with the fifth succumbing to her injuries a short while ago.

This comes after a recent spate of threats and kidnapping of medical staff in order to cease vaccinations against this deadly disease partly due to fears that the doctors, nurses and medical staff are spies due to the involvement of a doctor in the capture of Osama Bin Laden. (A Doctor who I will point out was rewarded with a 30 year jail sentence… Nice one Pakistan. Way to look like the good guys).

The cessation of vaccination and the active targeting of medical personnel makes Pakistan the only country with a rising polio rate and there are fears across Asia that Pakistan can be the source of the resurgence of this disease which has so far come back in China, Tajikistan and parts of Africa believed to be free of the disease.

Last year over 200 children in Pakistan were paralysed due to Polio. Hopefully this is the end of such attacks but I fear there will be more attacks on medics before the war on Polio is over in Pakistan.


  1. says

    If I may repeat what I wrote on Ophelia’s blog: You can blame the CIA for this: they have admitted to using “vaccination programs” to gather the DNA evidence that was use to track down bin Laden. In response, the Taliban — which is very strong in Pakistan, and which has a lot of covert support among the Pakistani government — has been warning people that vaccine programs are all surveillance plots by the US government in preparation for an invasion and occupation similar to the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq. As far as the murderers are concerned, killing these workers is an expression of patriotism and a preemptive strike for political autonomy.

    Shamefully, my country would rather kill thousands of innocents by endangering disease prevention programs around the world than let one figurehead, who was already 3/5th dead from kidney failure, escape its clutches.

  2. Riptide says

    I don’t think it’s quite so simple, Gregory. Pakistani (and other Muslim states’) resistance to the polio vaccine predates Osama bin Laden’s death by several years; in Nigeria and Pakistan and elsewhere, Muslim fundamentalists spread rumours that the vaccines would sterilize their children, based on no evidence whatsoever.

    So the Taliban’s usage of Osama bin Laden’s death reeks more of opportunism than anything else. Indeed, America isn’t entirely blameless, but you cannot reserve your outrage solely to your government.

  3. bradleybetts says

    “…they have admitted to using “vaccination programs” to gather the DNA evidence that was use to track down bin Laden.”

    Apologies if my cynicism is misplaced, but that’s not ringing true.

    I have never heard of this theory before, but three things immediately spring to mind: In what way would they obtain a sample without someone twigging? I mean, they could test the needle that’s been in their arm, but you’d need to withdraw blood or do a mouth swab to obtain any useful reference sample, surely? Secondly, I imagine mostly children recieve the inocculation ( I could be wrong). Thirdly, and most importantly, how would DNA from random Pakistani villagers have helped the US track Osama to that compound? I see no way it could have been of any use whatsoever.

    Just my two pence, please do correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. says

    Because it was a doctor who found Osama…

    Yeah seriously. People open doors for us in most of the world, the islamic fundie HATES that. The white coat was bullet proof, hence all the stories of doctors turning away entire armies of militia. In Somalia a gynaecologist did that. She seriously “told off” militia men till they did what she wanted them to. She actually got UN Aid unharmed to her hospital by grabbing the men trying to steal it and telling them off… Armed and dangerous men (and children) listened to her… I have seen mobs quiet down by the arrival of anyone wearing a stethoscope and white coat (I still wear a coat, unlike most other countries the symbology is important in some places)

    The problem was we didn’t know what Osama looked like but we do have his medical records. We know he was in Pakistan because the Pakistani government has a BIG PROBLEM WITH SPONSORING TERRORISTS. Like a massive one. It’s almost pathological considering how fucked the country is now particularly since Pakistan is in a state of civil war.

    So a doctor who was dosing for polio took swabs from his patient’s mouths which is used to test for polio endemicity. Areas with high endemic polio test positive more (98% of polio infection does nothing apart from a mild case of diarrhoea. You won’t even notice it it’s the 2% you worry about!).

    Except mouth swabs are the way of choice of collecting DNA too. The point of this was to confirm where Osama was so that they could kill the fuck out of him. And he showed up somewhere rather interesting (Next to an Army Base so that the USA could not send military drones) resulting in the shennanigans we saw here.

    Any fool can pull a trigger. The bravest man on that day was the man who found him. Do you know what his reward was?

    30 years… He will probably die in prison for doing the right thing. Because Pakistan’s government have a problem with an addiction to sponsoring terrorists… The anti-polio stuff isn’t new. This is old hat, it’s just the first time they have hit a major aid organisation.

    The workers were UN workers for the WHO, without WHO backing Pakistan may not have the ability to kill polio off.

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