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Fake campaign led to drop in Pak family vaccinations

Islamabad, Sat, 03 Dec 2011 ANI

Islamabad, Dec 3(ANI): Several Pakistani families refused polio vaccinations between July and September this year after reports of a fake campaign came to light, the UNICEF polio vaccination chief for Pakistan has said.


"Following the early reports, some families in the provinces did refuse to have their children vaccinated citing the fake campaign as the cause," the Wall Street Journal quoted Dennis King, as saying.


Pakistan security forces had detained a local doctor Shakeel Afridi on charges of being involved in the fake campaign.


Pakistan officials believe the campaign was an American move to get DNA samples of slain Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's family to confirm his location in Abbottabad.


Officials familiar with the Abbottabad operation confirmed that the Central Intelligence Agency ran a mock vaccine program with the help of a local doctor to obtain Abbottabad residents' DNA samples through injection, which helped target Bin Laden.


Islamabad's American embassy official his country would continue aiding vaccination programs in Pakistan.


The issue has stoked speculations of Islamist preachers that foreign health workers are spies.


Health workers said about 1,700 families in Mohabatabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, refused vaccinations after a prominent cleric, Maulana Siddique Ahmed launched a counter campaign to discourage the program.


Health workers had been trying to counter preachers through education but have achieved only limited success.


Taliban militant commanders have warned health workers against running the program in villages, and thus hampered UNICEF efforts.


According to UNICEF, Pakistan has one of the highest polio cases, which could endanger global eradication efforts. (ANI)


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