The Alliance condemns the killings of health workers in Pakistan

Family mourning death of lady health worker
A. Hussain / Reuters
Family members of Nasima Bibi, a female worker of an anti-polio drive campaign who was shot by gunmen, mourn at a hospital morgue in Karachi December 18, 2012

Geneva, 19 December 2012 | Nine health workers —part of a campaign supported by UNICEF and WHO to vaccinate tens of millions of Pakistani children at risk from polio—have been killed in the past 48 hours. The Global Health Workforce Alliance is deeply saddened by this tragedy and strongly condemns these cowardly attacks. The Alliance salutes the courageous health personnel who so often risk their lives in serving their communities.

One this tragic day, I would like to celebrate the health workers who lost their lives, who have been working selflessly to eradicate polio, said Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director of the Alliance. This is a deplorable act and our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of the victims. These acts have a devastating impact on the morale of the health workforce. This is even more catastrophic when we consider that many countries, like Pakistan are already facing critical shortages of health workers – and it is an unfortunate irony that cowardly acts like these occur in these very same countries, he added.

Lady health worker checking a young patient
Lady Health Worker attending young patient in Swat district, Pakistan

Pakistan is one of only three countries that are still polio endemic, with a potential to spread this crippling disease to areas where it has been eradicated. Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours. Safe and effective vaccines protect children from the disease.

The Global Health Workforce Alliance calls on the leaders of Pakistan to do the utmost to protect health workers across the country and create a secure environment so that the health needs of the populations can be met.