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Pakistan polio workers live in fear

Sunday, December 23, 2012 - 02:04

Dec. 23 - Health workers fear for their lives after the killings of nine polio vaccinators across Pakistan. Paul Chapman reports.

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PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Fehmida Shah lived in this poor neighbourhood in Karachi. She earned two dollars a day administering polio vaccine to children in remote areas of the city. Her job cost her her life. Shah was one of the nine health workers killed in a spate of shootings across Pakistan. Her eldest daughter says Shah did the job to help send her children to school. SOUNDBITE: SAIMA BIBI, ELDEST DAUGHTER OF FEHMIDA SHAH, SAYING (Urdu): "I have two small sisters. She used to work so that she could educate them, to give them a good education." The Taliban in Pakistan threatened action against anyone involved in polio vaccination because they said it was part of a plot to sterilise Muslims. Shah's husband says he had no idea of the risk she faced. SOUNDBITE: SYED RIAZ SHAH SHIRAZI, HUSBAND OF FEHMIDA SHAH, SAYING (Urdu): "If I'd known about the danger beforehand I would never have allowed to do the job. However poor or needy we are I would not have allowed her." Rukhsana Bibi was polio vaccinator for 16 years. Her daughter is also a victim of the spate of killings. Bibi says resistance to the polio vaccination programme is relatively recent. SOUNDBITE: RUKHSANA BIBI SAYING (Urdu): "Often the women would tell us not to administer the drops to their children because their husbands had forbidden it. They said it was an American plot to finish off our future generations and put an end to all of us." Other health workers in Pakistan are feeling nervous. SOUNDBITE: SIDRATUL MUNTHANA, POLIO HEALTH WORKER, SAYING (Urdu): "We're also feeling the danger although, thank God, there's nothing to worry about in Chitral so far but fear has crept into our hearts." Vaccinations have cut Pakistan's polio cases from 20, 000 to just 56 in less than a decade. It's feared any gaps in the programme now could quickly reverse those hard-won gains.

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Pakistan polio workers live in fear

Sunday, December 23, 2012 - 02:04