Pakistan wins anti-polio loan as more health workers are killed

A boy receives polio vaccination in Pakistan. Photo by: Gates Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND

The Islamic Development Bank has approved a $251 million loan for Pakistan’s anti-polio program as attacks against health workers continue.

The loan will finance a program worth $300 million, which will be managed by the Pakistani government until 2015, when the disease is expected to be eradicated. Part of the loan will be channeled through the World Health Organization and UNICEF for the payment of staff involved in mobilizing Pakistanis and monitoring the project’s success.

Polio eradication is part of the IsDB’s human development strategy for Pakistan, a member of the Jeddah-based bank.

Last week, two anti-polio workers, with a U.N.-backed campaign, were killed in a roadside bomb explosion near Parachinar in the Kurram district. Also last weekend, the first polio case of the year was detected in Karachi; local authorities there postponed an anti-polio campaign slated for this week over security concerns.

The Pakistani government has come up with its own program after donors refused to fund anti-polio campaigns following a wave of militant attacks against aid workers. Some militants have been increasingly suspicious of polio vaccination campaigns after the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011. A Pakistani doctor allegedly helped the U.S. government to locate the al-Qaida leader.

Some militants have also claimed that the vaccine makes sterilizes children.

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    John Alliage Morales

    As a staff writer, John Alliage Morales covers the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community - from Capitol Hill to Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom to the downtown headquarters of USAID, the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corp. Prior to joining Devex, Alliage worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.