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Medicine Science

Polio Eradication Program Suspended In Pakistan After Aid Workers Shot 223

Hugh Pickens writes "Jamal Khan reports that the United Nations has suspended its polio vaccination drive in Pakistan after eight people involved in the effort were shot dead in the past few days. The killings dealt a grave blow to the drive to bring an end to the scourge of polio in Pakistan, one of only three countries where the crippling disease still survives. Militants accuse health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and claim the vaccine makes children sterile. Taliban commanders in the troubled northwest tribal region have also said vaccinations can't go forward until the U.S. stops drone strikes in the country. Insurgent opposition to the campaign grew last year after it was revealed that a Pakistani doctor ran a fake polio vaccination program to help the CIA track down and kill Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in the town of Abbottabad in the country's northwest. The Pakistani government has condemned the attacks against aid workers, saying they deprive Pakistan's most vulnerable populations — specifically children — of basic life-saving health interventions. A total of 56 polio cases have been reported in Pakistan during 2012, down from 190 the previous year, according to the U.N. Most of the new cases in Pakistan are in the northwest, where the presence of militants makes it difficult to reach children. Clerics and tribal elders were recruited to support polio vaccinations in an attempt to open up areas previously inaccessible to health workers. 'This is undoubtedly a tragic setback,' says UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe, 'but the campaign to eradicate polio will and must continue.'"
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Polio Eradication Program Suspended In Pakistan After Aid Workers Shot

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  • Biological warfare (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @04:12PM (#42363301)

    I guess the Taliban have obtained biological weapons of mass destruction after all. They didn't need any fancy technology, just a whole lot of stupidity.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Friday December 21, 2012 @04:28PM (#42363535) Homepage Journal

    Eventually run out of people to get killed or crippled by polio and the rest of us can get on with living in the 21st century.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday December 21, 2012 @04:36PM (#42363623) Journal
    India and Pakistan are basically same culturally. Of course, India is largely Hindu but with substantial Muslim population (actually India has more Muslims than Pakistan!) and Pakistan is mostly Muslim. But apart from the religious division, culturally, linguistically, ethnically they are not far apart and they were the same country till 1947. Theoretically Hindus with their caste divisions are supposed to fare worse than casteless Muslim majority Pakistan. But somehow in the last seventy years they have charted a completely different course. Both had the same judicial system, revenue/governance systems, English language, and railways, armed forces inherited from the Brits.

    Pakistan allied itself to NATO and America, allowed its land to be used freely for US spy planes, Voice of America broadcast stations, bought every bit of military hardware US was allowed to export, from Patton Tanks, to F-16s to E-3 Hawk-eyes to stinger missiles to.... India claimed to be a leader of Non-Aligned movement, but in fact it was leaning towards USSR with MIG-21, MIG-23, Sukai, Hind helicopters and T-72 tanks etc.

    But though both countries were mired in poverty, somehow India's democracy thrived. No one would mistake India for a developed country, with its slums and open sewers and congested roads and perennial power cuts and corrupt politicians and periodical flare up of communal violence. But somehow it is emerging out of it, in fits and starts, cornered the cheap back office white collar market, some good IT companies, decent medical systems, eradicated polio, making good progress on other diseases...

    I don't think the difference is religion. I think the difference is government dominated by the military in Pakistan, and civilians in firm control of the military in India. That I think set a completely different social processes, incentives in the economy etc. I think economists should study how this process happened instead of wasting their time out doing one another in forecasting gloom and doom following the fiscal cliff. More and more the economists are looking like Mayans predicting the end of the world at the end of their long count calender.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday December 21, 2012 @05:04PM (#42363937)
    There was a study done a few years back that I think is related to what you are trying to get at. It was observed that certain groups from that part of the world assimilated into British society more readily than others. In particular they studied people from a particular region on the subcontinent and observed that the non-Muslims assimilated more readily than the Muslims, yet this was not necessarily true of Muslims from other regions(although it was true of a larger fraction of Muslims than other groups). They attempted to determine what was different.
    When they studied the immigrants from that particular region they discovered that while all of them practiced arranged marriages with cousins, the Muslims from that region practiced patrilineal arranged marriages and the non-Muslims practiced Matrilineal arranged marriages. In addition, the clan structure was patrilineal. The effect was that among the non-Muslims, a young woman left her father's clan and married into the clan her mother came from. This tended to encourage relationships across clan boundaries. On the other hand, among the Muslims a young woman stayed within the clan she grew up in when she got married. This tended to encourage clans to remain divided. As far as I know, the practice of patrilineal arranged marriages is not a doctrine of Islam. However, it appears that most Muslim areas practice it. I wish I could remember the reference for the study because the authors made a compelling case that this practice explained the intractability of many of the cultural pathologies of Muslim countries. In addition, the authors brought in how other cultures with a similar patrilineal marriage pattern had similar pathologies, even when the cultures had few other common elements.
  • by firewrought ( 36952 ) on Friday December 21, 2012 @06:15PM (#42364727)

    The problem is that most "cultural lobotomies" have been performed by ethnic discrimination, terror, or simply mass killing.

    Aye, that is a problem. I guess that it all boils down to the fact that until recently, for a very long period (approximately from the end of the Neolithic), there has been very little value put on a human life. And in many parts of the world, it still is.

    And, just as counterexample, some "cultural lobotomies" have been relatively bloodless [wikipedia.org]. Some of the changes were subtle, such as adopting a new alphabet so as to separate people from their history. Ninety years later, Turkey's doing better than most of its Islamist cousins. Was it ethical? Probably not, but it turned out better than most ideologically driven changes.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:18PM (#42365393) Journal
    Patrilineal endogamy [*] is not an Islamic doctrine. It is practiced by Muslims in the regions that were once a part of Ottoman Empire. Endogamy in general is encouraged by societies to conserve the family wealth, and to reduce subdivision of land among the heirs. Most eastern countries allow child of a woman to marry the child of her brother. It is less common but not taboo in Europe. Most aristocrats end up marrying their cousins. Even Einstein married his cousin.

    Deleterious (harmful) mutations are lot more common than beneficial mutations. So when the marriage happens between very closely related individuals, the deleterious mutations reduce the fitness of the off spring. But if marriage always happens between very distantly related individuals, the beneficial mutations do not get a chance to take hold. So what is the optimal genetic distance? Jared Diamond mentions that a genetic distance of 1/8 to 1/64 was found to be the optimum. Genetic distance between siblings, parent-child is 0.5. Between first cousins it is 0.125. (0.5 * 0.5 * 0.5). Between second cousins it is 1/64. This was found by genetic analysis of bird populations that are free to choose their mates. The assumption is whatever genetic distance is the most favored or most common would have been the optimum arrived at by millennia of evolution.

    Coming back to the patrilineal endogamy, it explains very well the allegiance of most Iraqis to their sheiks (clan leaders) rather than religion, sect, country. Some people attribute the lack of women's rights in a divorce also sets a completely different social dynamic. But whatever is the root cause, Pakistan is a failed state with nuclear weapons. It can not be left to sort its future out the way we let Angola or Sierra Leon. They got nukes. Either they give up nukes like Ukraine, and other *stans. Or they shape up.

    [*] Patrilineal endogamy: Marriage between children of brothers is allowed. Sometimes encouraged.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"