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Pakistan kicks off nationwide polio drive, citing success

September 18, 2017

A health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, Polio remains endemic in Pakistan after the Taliban banned vaccinations, instigated attacks targeting medical staffers and spread suspicions about the vaccine. (Muhammad Sajjad)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan has launched its first nationwide polio vaccination drive, aiming to reach tens of millions of children while citing success in previous campaigns.

Dr. Rana Mohammad Safdar, the national coordinator for polio eradication, said Monday that some 250,000 campaigners would try to reach more than 37 million children under the age of five in the next four days.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries with polio epidemics. Islamic extremists have targeted previous campaigns in Pakistan, alleging that the vaccines are part of a Western plot to harm Muslims.

But Safdar said recent efforts have been successful, reducing the number of polio cases from 306 in 2014 to just four in the current year.

Update hourly