Child receiving oral polio vaccine drops in Balochistan, Pakistan. Photo by: Gates Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND

A local community worker who was part of the polio eradication initiative in Pakistan was shot and killed Friday (July 20), three days after a shooting incident in the same town injured two World Health Organization staff members.

Muhammad Ishaq’s death comes days after the campaign was suspended in parts of Gadap town in Karachi. He had worked as a Union Council Polio Worker, helping plan and implement vaccination drives to protect children from the disease.

In a joint statement, WHO and UNICEF said they were deeply saddened by the incident and called Ishaq — with his dedication and diligence to immunize “all children” in Pakistan against polio — a hero.

These violent incidents risk undermining gains made against the disease, which remains endemic in Pakistan. Elias Durry, head of the WHO polio eradication program in Pakistan, told Devex in an email that the decision to resume operations in the concerned areas will be “guided by the investigation and situation analysis by local and security-related administrations.”

Campaign activities in others parts of Karachi, however, have been “successfully conducted and completed,” Durry said.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.