Polio Infections Rise in Middle East Where Vaccinations are Banned
Polio vaccinations have played a large role in eradicating the disease from many parts of the world. While vaccinations impose debatable risks, polio is too dangerous to be unguarded from. Unfortunately, some parts of the world are banning polio vaccines. As a result, we are seeing the number of infected persons rise.
Polio Infections Rise
Declared an international health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), 74 cases of polio have been diagnosed throughout the world this year. 59 cases come from Pakistan, where the Taliban has banned helpful vaccines. Afghanistan comes in with the second highest amount of diagnoses. Four. All other countries with polio cases have less than four.
Polio is known to affect children more than adults. Particularly, children who are younger than five years old. Many of those who are diagnosed with polio will suffer long-term effects. For every 200 cases, one child will be left with permanent paralysis. Another five to 10 percent will die because their muscles become so weak they cannot take in and expel air properly. There is no cure for polio, only prevention.
Fears of Vaccination
Vaccinations are the sole hope for preventing polio and stamping out the spread of this disease, once again. While it is notably helpful and necessary, it is also widely debated. In Canada and the U.S., concern about vaccinations mainly come from fear that they increase the chances of children developing autism and learning disabilities. In the Middle East however, where the polio vaccine is currently banned from a large area in Pakistan, the controversy seems mostly geopolitical.
The Taliban is currently banning polio vaccinations from the area of North Waziristan, which is reported as a “volatile” part of Pakistan while in war. This ban has been in place for the past two years and the Taliban says it will remain in effect while the U.S. military continues to conduct drone strikes in the area.
According to CNN, the Taliban are reported as saying, “On one hand, the U.S. spends millions of dollars to eliminate polio, while on the other hand it kills hundreds with the help of its slave, Pakistan.”
Other than protest, the Taliban fears that people vaccinating children might actually be spying on them. In this part of the world it is common for people administering the vaccination to go to the child’s home. It is commonly believed that they’ve collected information that is then given to the U.S. military to aid their drone efforts. Many polio workers have died because of this widely held belief.
Eradicating Polio Once Again
In addition to Pakistan, the countries of Syria and Cameroon have polio spreading beyond their borders. Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria are all known to have people infected by polio, but believe it is maintained.
Conflict torn nations are vulnerable to polio outbreaks. With high rates of malnutrition and low standards of living, children who have not been vaccinated for the disease are more likely to catch it. This is the emergency WHO is warning the world about. Putting controversy aside, the proposed solution is to get vaccines to Pakistan and eradicate the disease once again.