In Pakistan, where anti-polio campaigns long have been influenced by geopolitics, the government is taking steps to fine parents who don't allow their children to be vaccinated while also appealing to religious clerics in Saudi Arabia to rebut the Taliban fatwa against polio vaccination in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas.
Pakistan's efforts to combat polio are being hampered as a result of a faux-vaccination campaign used in the hunt to catch al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the United Nations says. Many Pakistani families have refused to get their children vaccinated in target areas between July and September, specifically citing the earlier fake as the reason.
An additional loan of $41 million has been approved by the World Bank for the polio vaccination program in Pakistan in order to enable the government to immunize 32 million children against the disease. The country has seen a spike in the number of polio cases since last year's floods and continued fighting against Taliban insurgents.
Pakistani health officials are reporting more than a dozen new cases of polio in the country's troubled Swat Valley region. Health workers have been unable to ensure immunization coverage for children living in the area for more than a year as security forces battle Taliban militants.
Teams of UNICEF volunteers are going house to house to immunize children in Afghanistan's impoverished Ghor region, where polio has seen a resurgence. The effort is the latest of four nationwide campaigns aimed at immunizing some 7.5 million children who received inadequate care while Taliban insurgents were in control of the country.