The Daily Impact: Polio Security Officer Shot Dead in Pakistan

January 30, 2013

A police officer protecting polio vaccine workers in northwestern Pakistan was shot dead on Tuesday. From the AP:

The attack took place as dozens of polio workers — including several women — were going door to door to vaccinate children in Gullu Dheri village of Swabi district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said senior police officer Izhar Shah. None of the polio workers the police officer was protecting were hurt in the attack, he said.

“The polio workers were terrified and immediately went back to their homes after the attack,” Shah told The Associated Press. “The anti-polio drive in that village has been suspended.”

Some Islamic militants oppose the vaccination campaign, accuse health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile. Pakistan is one of the few remaining places where polio is still rampant.

In a separate incident in the northwest, a man wounded a polio worker with an axe.

The attacks occurred on the second day of a three-day campaign against polio that was launched by the provincial government. No one claimed responsibility for the shooting in Gullu Dheri, but suspicion fell on militants.


The latest campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was launched Monday to give oral drops to children who had missed it the first time around.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the crippling disease is endemic. The virus usually infects children living in unsanitary conditions. It attacks the nerves and can kill or paralyze. As many as 56 polio cases were reported in Pakistan during 2012, down from 190 the previous year, according to the United Nations.

Most of the new cases in Pakistan were in the northwest, where the presence of militants makes it difficult to reach children for vaccination.

Pakistan is also struggling to maintain control of its southern province of Baluchistan.

On Tuesday, gunmen driving in a car opened fire on two police constables who were patrolling on motorcycle in a neighborhood of the provincial capital, Quetta, said Nadir Khan, a local police chief. Both the police officers were killed, he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but similar attacks against security forces are believed to be the work of Baluch nationalists who have been pushing for a greater say in use of the province’s resources.


Global Health and Development Beat

H1N1 – Efforts are underway to vaccinate residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territory against H1N1 after 25 deaths by the flu in recent weeks.

Malaria – Researchers evaluated more than 80 plants used by traditional healers to treat malaria in Benin.

Polio – Poliovirus was detected in the sewage of three cities in Pakistan, Karachi, Hyderabad and Peshawar, says the WHO.


The Players

OCHAWarns that healthcare funding is about to run out for an estimated 200,000 people in northern Yemen.

Red Cross – The Kenyan Red Cross suspended services in parts of the Dadaab refugee camp following an attack on one of their ambulances.

WFP – Says it is providing food assistance in the Somali port city of Kismayo for the first time in four years.

FAO – Called for improved surveillance and control against the spread of diseases like H1N1.

USAIDReiterated its commitments to save the lives of mothers and children in Nigeria.


Spotlight on PSI

The Nyasa Times reports on the release of PSI/Malawi improved Chishango condom.

Some who have tested the condoms and spoke to Nyasa Times said they liked the new Chishango because it prolonged sex and guarantees protection.

PSI programme manager responsible for condoms Brenda Kamanga said the rebranding of Chishango has taken into consideration target audience’s views.

“The new Chishango is much improved now with a better vanilla flavour. The pack itself contains four condoms instead of three,” said Kamanga.

She said the condom, whose slogan is kuyenda ndi m’didi meaning that one is safe when used properly,should help reduce the spread of HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“PSI continues to partner government in prevention of HIV and Aids through the provision and distribution of condoms,” said Director responsible for HIV and Aids in the Ministry of Health Dr. Frank ChimbwandiraMalawi Government has since commended PSI/Malawi for the role it plays in preventing the spread of HIV and Aids.

Speaking in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, during the launch of the new improved Chishango condom, Chimbwandira added: “As government, we encourage Malawians on the importance of correct and consistent use of Chishango condoms which have proved to be stronger over the years.”

He said despite efforts to reduce the number of new infections, which he put at 55 000 a year, the figure remains high.


Buzzing in the Blogs

Actress Sarah Wayne Callies shares reflections of sexual abuse and displacement ahead of her trip with the IRC to see its work with Syrian refugees.

This time the IRC and I are going to Jordan and northern Iraq to explore the operations there – operations that are a part of the relief effort absorbing Syrian refugees fleeing civil war. And this time I will be neck deep in what they call GBV, or gender-based violence — it’s an innocuous term that includes the systematic rape and beating of women and girls. And I am scared witless.

I am a victim of sexual violence myself (no, I don’t want to say more about it), and those wounds cut deeper, festered longer, and left fiercer scars than any I have sustained in my life. I don’t know the pain of a refugee — I tried to express it on The Walking Dead, exploring the story of a group of frightened people without a government to protect them — but it was all make-believe and existed only in my imagination. But I do know what sexual violence feels like, I know the seeds of fear that root in the marrow of one’s bones, I know the horror of powerlessness at the knowledge that one’s daughter is never wholly safe.

It’s one thing to write, speak, advocate, and lobby on behalf of refugees who’s pain I can only imagine like those from Myanmar. But in reading about the GBV in the Syrian conflict, sitting with the women to hear those stories, and writing and speaking on their behalf, I am walking headlong into my own darkest night.

What to do with the weight of the stories the women from Syria will tell me? What happens when I look in their faces and recognize the same shrinking isolation I saw in the mirror for years? How can I fling a life-preserver to women adrift in shame, fear, and rage without drowning in it myself all over again?

I have no idea, and I am numb with fear. But I am getting on a plane in a few days to find out. And that has to be the first step, doesn’t it? To sit with one another, share tea and air, and hear each other’s stories. Maybe hearing those stories won’t be like drowning after all, and maybe sharing my story won’t be like walking out into the night alone. Maybe — could this be how it works? — sharing these stories, even through tears or shaking with anger, brings all of us the grace of knowing we are not alone, and that if any one of us can heal, so can we all.


Capital Events


8:15 AM – Lessons Learned from a Donor’s Collaborative: Managing and Sustaining Effective Coalitions – Aspen Institute

9:00 AM – Statesmen’s Forum: Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President – CSIS

9:30 AM – Developing Private Sector Input Supply Systems – USAID

5:00 PM – Interested in Health Related Policy Issues and Programs?

6:00 PM – The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Disaster Preparedness and Resilience – CSIS


12:00 PM – International Criminal Law and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Syria and Libya – AU Law


9:30 AM – Women’s International Human Rights – Georgetown School of Foreign Service

12:30 PM – Renewable Resources Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist Belt – CGD


By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy

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