ABU DHABI // A UAE campaign to vaccinate 20,000 Pakistani children against measles and polio is proving a success in one of the country’s hardest-to-reach areas.
Previous attempts to help families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan and is often the target of US drone attacks, have faltered, partly due to the refusal of conservative parents to let their children be vaccinated.
But efforts by the UAE’s Pakistan Assistance Project, which works with hospitals, clinics and schools to raise parents’ awareness of the importance of the jabs, are bearing fruit.
The project’s vaccination centres have attended to large numbers of youths over the past three days.
Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus, which attacks the nervous system and causes severe paralysis. One in 200 cases results in permanent paralysis.
The disease mainly affects children under five and there is no cure.
A vaccine against polio was created in the 1950s, and mass vaccination drives since have nearly eradicated the disease. It persists only in three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Measles is also highly contagious and it too can prove fatal. The disease’s worldwide death toll for 2010 stands at 140,000, with a significant number of the victims in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas.
The UAE vaccination campaign was ordered by Sheikh Khalifa, the President, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Humanitarian Foundation has announced the end of the first phase of its effort to assist displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Arkan state.
The foundation delivered three ambulances and 1,300 tonnes of relief items.