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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Three More Polio Workers Killed in Pakistan
19 December 2012 5:40 pm
Unidentified assailants shot and killed three polio vaccinators today in northwest Pakistan today. The deaths come on the heels of a spate of attacks on Monday and Tuesday and bring to nine the total number of polio workers killed in the past 3 days; two others were injured. In response, Pakistani government officials have suspended the 3-day polio vaccination campaign that was being conducted across the country, says Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, one of the international partners supporting Pakistan in its effort to eradicate polio.
Details are still emerging, but the shootings took place in Peshawar, Nowshera, and Charsadda, all in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where another polio volunteer was killed on Monday. On Tuesday, five polio workers were shot and killed in the megacity Karachi, at the southern tip of the country.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but many suspect the Taliban, which has opposed polio vaccination, calling it a plot to sterilize Muslim children and threatening polio workers.
There is no word yet on when the vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, typically conducted four to six times a year, might resume. "For sure this is a major setback," to the global campaign to eradicate polio, says Rosenbauer, who calls the killings "horrific." The next step, he says, is to ascertain and address the root causes of the attacks and to "create a frontline environment where health workers can operate safely." Over the long history of the global eradication campaign, vaccination drives have been temporarily suspended in a number of countries but have resumed when the different factions reach "common ground on protecting the health of children," Rosenbauer says.
Since the global polio eradication initiative began in 1988, polio cases worldwide have dropped more than 99%. Pakistan is one of three countries, along with Nigeria and Afghanistan, where the virus remains entrenched.