Alpena Rotarians, and all of us who care about the good health of mankind, were filled with sadness last week to learn of the senseless killing of health care workers in Pakistan.
Nine U.N.-supported health care workers were killed over three days in Pakistan. The crews were going about the country immunizing children against polio. The efforts mirror those of Rotary International as well, whose goal for several decades now is to eradicate polio worldwide. Often the U.N. World Health Organization and Rotary International have teamed up in the polio immunization efforts.
Polio has been eliminated in all but four countries worldwide. In addition to Pakistan, polio still exists in Afghanistan, Nigeria and India.
Unfortunately, in all but India, tribal chieftains, Taliban insurgents and Islamic militants often are suspicious of the immunization efforts, fearing foreigners are trying to sterilize the children or else acting as spies for foreign governments.
Immunization efforts have been difficult because of that culture, as well as the geographical remoteness of the villages and cities where people congregate.
Despite that, Rotary and others will press on in their eradication efforts.
According to a press release from Rotary International officials: "Pakistani Rotarians (151 clubs) supported by Rotary members worldwide, will continue to do their utmost to create a safe environment so that these dedicated health workers can reach the nation's most vulnerable children with vaccinations and other vital health interventions. Polio eradication has been Rotary's highest priority since 1985."
We are so close to eradicating polio worldwide. We cannot let last week's tragedy prevent that from occurring.