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Rise in polio cases in Pakistan calls for new prevention methods

Displacement and traveling to get out of conflict-ridden areas have led to a rise in polio cases in Pakistan, IRIN reports.

"Essentially the problem is security, which makes the movement of vaccination teams difficult," Cathy Williams, head of communications at UNICEF's Polio Eradication Unit, told the news outlet. "The movement of populations, for instance from the militant-hit Federally Administered Tribal Areas area to Karachi, also adds to the spread of the virus.”

Thus far, 69 new cases have been reported this year in comparison to last year's 37 cases, according to the news outlet.

Lack of women volunteers for vaccination teams is one problem humanitarian groups are facing. Many Pakistani women are refusing treatment for themselves and their children because cultural reasoning prohibits women from seeing male doctors.

"I worked as a vaccinator with government teams for two years until 2009, when my parents said it was too dangerous and asked me to quit,” Fatima Bibi, a female health worker told the news source. "I am always depressed when I hear about the growing number of cases and wish I could do more to prevent them."

To combat this problem, Williams said UNICEF is working with the World Health Organization to improve vaccination efforts to aid women and those in impoverished regions.
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