MIRANSHAH: Health officials in Pakistan have warned of a serious polio outbreak after the disease was detected in 16 children in a tribal district where militant groups have banned vaccination.
Dr Khayal Mir Jan, the top health official in Pakistan’s militant-infested North Waziristan tribal district, on the Afghan border, said that thousands of children were at risk.
Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where the highly infectious, crippling disease remains endemic. Infections shot up from 28 in 2005 to 200 last year. “Polio virus has been detected in 16 children since the Taliban ban. We are waiting for the result of the stool samples of another 42 children suspected of having the disease.”
Local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur banned polio vaccinations in Waziristan in June 2012, alleging the campaign was a cover for espionage. Bahadur, allied with Afghan Taliban, said the ban would remain until drone attacks are stopped in the region. AFP