Via The Guardian: Pakistan's polio-busters try to contain disease despite terrorist opposition. Excerpt from an excellent and informative article:
North Waziristan's ability to generate more than half the world's polio cases in the past year has made it the biggest threat to the global effort to stamp out a disease that can easily reinfect areas that have been cleared.
It poses such a risk that since 1 June most travellers, young and old alike, have had to get revaccinated before leaving the country in case they take the disease with them.
While everything about tackling a highly infectious disease in a country with widespread poverty is hard, curbing the uncontrolled outbreak in North Waziristan has been impossible. No health polio vaccinator had been able to step in to the tribal agency since June 2012 when the militants who controlled the area banned all health workers in what they said was retaliation for US drone strikes.
It followed revelations that the CIA had used a hepatitis B vaccination programme in the city of Abbottabad as a front for trying to track down the former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.
Health workers compared North Waziristan to a gushing tap that could not be turned off, forcing the campaign to focus resources on elaborate efforts just to stop it spreading. So the launch on 15 June of a massive military operation against the foreign and domestic terrorists who had come to rule North Waziristan is seen by Durry and his colleagues as a huge step forward.
"It's a real opportunity for us," he said. "We have been desperate to get access to these people for a long time."
While it has created misery for about half a million people who have had to flee their homes, the internally displaced have been forced to pass through army checkpoints, where they have been vaccinated.
Already almost 200,000 previously unreachable civilians fleeing hostilities have been treated with drops of a solution containing a highly weakened form of the polio virus.
But in underdeveloped countries one treatment is not sufficient for often malnourished and sick children to develop the immunity required to ensure the virus eventually dies out.
It means children have to be continuously re-dosed, with those in low-risk areas generally expected to receive about six doses a year while those living in the teeming slums of big cities receive the drops up to 15 times annually.
Such efforts are helping to drench Pakistan's children with polio drops – in the past two years more than 420m doses of oral polio vaccine have been administered.