Anti-Polio campaigners appear to have been targetted in a bomb attack in Pakistan. Six people were feared killed but the figure has been revised down to two. Militants bombed a van near a hospital in Budh Bher suburb of the north-western city of Peshawar.
BBC News reports: "Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, due in part due to militant resistance to polio mass vaccination campaigns. Militants have attacked and killed health workers and banned vaccination teams from some areas, forcing hundreds of thousands of children to miss vaccinations.
The two killed comprised one police officer and a member of a local peace committee, riding in a van as part of an anti-polio campaign, said police officials". A number of people sustained injuries.
Why would any group or organisation want to kill people doing such vital work? Why stop a program that could ease suffering?. Well here is one possible reason: "A fake hepatitis vaccination campaign, run covertly by the CIA, helped to locate al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011. He was then killed in an operation by US Navy Seals".
Remember Polio? If you live in the west Polio may be forgotten, unless you are aged over 50.
In the early 1900s "Poliomyelitis, known as Polio, although less common, [than Skeletal tuberculosis] at this time, could also cause lifelong disabilities. Such infections favoured overcrowded unsanitary environments, so a disproportionate number of poor children were affected. Poverty also gave rise to another common cause of childhood disability: rickets, a bone-weakening disease caused by vitamin deficiency" -- Science Museum.
The article continues: "Conversely, polio reached epidemic levels. In 1947 there were nearly 8000 cases - more than 10 times the previous yearly average - and thousands more cases appeared into the 1950s. These figures, although dwarfed by those in America, created widespread panic".
Pre the NHS, in the early part of the 20th Century, disabled children begged on the streets of the UK. Their care relied on philanthropy and charity. Giving to the poor no doubt satisfied a need in some wealthy individuals but Britain woke up following WWII. The NHS was created and the health of the nation, not just those with enough money to guarantee good health, was addressed.
The NHS provides cradle to the grave healthcare free at the point access to its people, and long may it continue to do so. The cobbled together UK coalition government is trying its best to privatise the NHS but it does not have a clear mandate to do so.
As a child in the 50s this blogger was one of many vaccinated against Polio. The "vaccination" took the form of a few drops of the Polio vaccine on a lump of sugar. Families queued up at local schools in order to receive the vital protection against Polio. At that time there was an epidemic and the effects of the disease were all too clear.
There are still Polio survivors in the UK, but they are a dying breed. They date back to a time before mass vaccination of the population.
This blogger's Mum, born in 1917 at the tail end of WWI, had rickets as a child. She wore calipers on her legs pre-school days. She lived to the ripe old age of 58. Yet she was a lucky child in that she and her siblings always had shoes to wear and a father in work. Other kids at that time were bare foot and died in childhood. Mum's little brother, Bobby, died aged four.
The hoi poloi of course, not the elusive 1% who had the wealth and power even then.
Feel complacent about Polio as you live in the west?
Read Poliovirus detected from environmental samples in Israel and West Bank and Gaza Strip