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Pakistan to pay parents in polio vaccination campaign

March 10, 2014 at 1:34 PM   |   Comments

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, March 10 (UPI) -- Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for the first time, will pay parents to have children vaccinated against polio, a public health director said.

Parents in the northwestern province, the site of Taliban violence and among the last remaining strongholds of polio on earth, will receive 1,000 rupees ($9.64) for each child who completes a 15-month program of vaccinations against polio, measles and hepatitis, the British newspaper the Guardian reported Monday.

Public health officials in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa face challenges including poverty, militant attacks and residents' deep suspicions of programs enthusiastically backed by western powers, the Guardian said.

"It (the reward) has to be a good amount of money to be attractive, even in the poorest districts of the province," said Janbaz Afridi, deputy director of the immunization program.

The provincial capital, Peshawar, is the "largest reservoir of endemic polio virus in the world," the United Nations' World Health Organization declared in February.

"In other districts the virus comes and goes, but it never leaves Peshawar," said Bilal Ahmed, a senior UNICEF official said.

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