The Daily Impact: New Polio Strain Another Setback for Pakistan

January 29, 2014

A new strain of polio has been identified in a part of Pakistan where eradication efforts against the crippling disease are most at risk because of attacks against vaccinators. From VOA:

Earlier this month, the WHO warned that Peshawar has the world’s largest reservoir of polio virus and that 90 percent of Pakistani polio cases last year were linked to a strain of the disease found in Peshawar’s sewers.  The WHO researchers say that 90 percent of the polio cases in Pakistan can be traced back to the highly contagious strain found in Peshawar, and unless transmissions are curbed in Peshawar, the virus could spread, threatening global eradication efforts.

Dr. Kaleemullah Khan who is the deputy head of the Khyber Pakhtunkhaw government’s polio eradication program, also talking to Deewa Radio said if urgent steps were not taken, the polio virus will “soon be known as Pashtun virus,” after the people who live in Pakistan’s northwest regions and Afghanistan.

Polio eradication efforts cost $1 billion a year and few public health campaigns have been as successful.  Twenty-five years ago about 350,000 people, mostly children were crippled by polio every year.  Now, only about 250 people are infected, but that number could rise dramatically because of attacks against polio vaccinators in Pakistan by Islamist Taliban militants.

Islamist militants have attacked polio vaccinators in other countries, such as Nigeria, claiming the vaccinators are spies or part of drive to sterilize Muslims or spread HIV.

But nowhere has the violence against vaccinators reached the level found in Pakistan.  There are almost daily attacks against vaccinators and violence is escalating.  Recently a bomb targeting a polio security team killed six policemen and a young boy about 30 kilometers outside Peshawar.   Last year there were more than 30 attacks against vaccinators.

Observers say polio eradication efforts in Pakistan suffered a setback after Pakistani’s learned that the CIA had paid a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi to conduct a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad, in a bid to get DNA samples from children inside the compound that housed a-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden.


Global Health and Development Beat

Philippines – The Philippine government is struggling to meet the needs of survivors of the devestating typhoon, in areas of the archipelago that have experienced calamity as well as conflict.

H7N9 – Health officials in Hong Kong killed about 20,000 chickens Tuesday after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was found in poultry imported from the mainland.

Male Circumcision – Images of deformed penises on a website slamming botched traditional circumcisions in South Africa have raised the ire of cultural commentators.

Food Security – A Zimbabwe state mechanism designed to promote food security, the Grain Marketing Board, is being blamed for exacerbating the country’s chronic food shortages.

Food Security – Malawi’s government is trying to ease the impact of a food shortage by rationing the country’s staple crop, maize. The move has sparked a steep increase in the price of maize on the parallel market.


The Players

Red Cross – Officials are urging combatants in several Libyan cities to protect the wounded and civilian populations safe from more fighting.

UN – Uncertainty for the UN aid convoy meant to help thousands of Syrians in the besieged city of Homs with the Syrian government demanded assurances the supplies would not end up in the hands of “terrorists.”

UNICEF –  Says it urgently needs $32 million to meet the immediate needs of those affected by South Sudan’s recent crisis.

EU – The European Commission released almost €140 million to finance five development projects for the Republic of Guinea. Following inclusive and peaceful elections.


Buzzing in the Blogs

A strong case for the fact that the jargon that is used across the aid sector hurts the poor. An exerpt:

Gender-sensitive multi-sectoral capacity building facilitates knowledge sharing and engages stakeholders in inclusive green growth.

If you understood that sentence, you probably work in the world of international development.

If you did not understand it, you are part of the rest of the world that is essentially locked out of understanding much of the publicly funded work of international development organizations.

If you are a poor person in Asia, you most definitely did not understand that sentence.

In the age of digital communications, and freedom of information, producing reports that are laden with development jargon and technical language is the equivalent of writing in a secret code that can only be read by the wealthy, powerful and educated.

In short, using jargon discriminates against the poor.

Using jargon also makes international development information inaccessible to students, as well as researchers who do not have expertise in the area.

Jargon inhibits journalists from understanding and sharing information about development.

Jargon slams the door on young people and the elderly who are interested in learning more about development.

Jargon blocks information from girls and women in developing countries, many of whom face societal and institutional barriers to education, particularly higher education.

Jargon has the effect of making search engines such as Google blind to information.

Jargon allows some experts to hide their ignorance. Reciting a jargon-laden sentence is much easier than trying to grasp and explain the underlying concepts.


Capital Events


12:00 PM – Syrian Perspectives on Transitional Justice and Geneva II – USIP

12:30 PM – Fostering Democracy Through Education – IFES

3:30 PM – A Conversation with Tereza Campello, Brazil’s Minister of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger – Wilson Center

4:00 PM – The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest Is Good for the West – CGD


9:00 AM – Elections in Latin America – Wilson Center

9:30 AM – Trends, Actors, and Factors in India’s 2014 Elections – Atlantic Council

3:00 PM – Forging Peace in the Next Generation: Strategies for Youth Engagement – OAS


9:00 AM – Sports: A Tool for Innovation & Development – IADB


11:30 AM – Shifting Balance: A Simulation of Defense, Diplomacy, and Development in the Horn of Africa – Elliott School


By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy

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