Letter to Editor
Polio health workers need more protection when working in remote areas
It was deeply distressing to read about a mother and daughter Polio team who were gunned down as they were immunising children in Pakistan. It was also a shock to read that police personnel providing security to Polio workers had been withdrawn due to the attention it was drawing.
Attacks like this are sadly not a one-off. More than 100 people have been killed in attacks targeting aid workers since December 2012. Pakistan hopes to be removed from the list of Polio-endemic countries by the end of this year and achieve its goal of no new cases for a year; these attacks can seriously damage that effort, and with it our collective shared dream (alongside Rotary International and the World Health Organisation) of a Polio-free world.
As a Polio survivor myself who represents some 120,000 people in the UK with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), I urge the powers that be to prioritise vaccination security with the same vigour and generosity that is being afforded to the overall eradication effort. Perhaps some of the astonishingly generous funds from The Gates Foundation can be channelled into a UN security operation (or similar), to assist local officials in protecting the vaccination teams. Local governments are clearly in need of help, and we owe it to the volunteers to make sure they are not risking their lives by administering potentially life-saving vaccinations.
If you are one of the 120,000 Polio survivors in the UK, The British Polio Fellowship can help you.
Call 0800 043 1935, or visit www.britishpolio.org.uk
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship