Americans haven’t worried about polio for a long time; vaccines have effectively eliminated the disease in America and much of the rest of the world. However, there are three countries that are still facing polio epidemics: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
Global Polio Eradication Initiative Plans to Vaccinate
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, partners with UNICEF and the World Health Organization, have been working to vaccinate children in these at risk countries. Health workers were planning to inoculate 161,000 children younger than 5 when international politics overpowered relief efforts.
Pakistani Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur has banned the polio vaccinations in North Waziristan in the tribal belt where these children live. The ban is following a 2011 U.S. vaccination campaign that also covertly collected DNA in order to try to locate Osama Bin Laden.
Before the C.I.A.’s involvement was discovered, the Taliban was in support of the vaccinations and allowed health workers to reach children in safety. Now Bahadur is refusing to allow vaccinations until the U.S. discontinues drone strikes in Pakistan.
Politics and Healthcare Don’t Mix
Both the U.S. and the Pakistani Taliban are jeopardizing children’s access to necessary vaccinations in order to make political gains. While international relations between the two countries are both delicate and highly important, when access to healthcare is used for political gain, only the citizens suffer.
Both countries are allowing politics to get in the way of healthcare. Children in need of vaccinations are being used for political purposes. It is wrong to jeopardize their access to necessary, lifesaving healthcare in the name of politics. These organizations have the ability to provide lifesaving vaccinations to hundreds of thousands of children, and should not be stopped or used simply for political gains.
Thanks for reading!
Rebecca S. Busch