The Council on Foreign Relations maintains a map of global outbreaks of diseases that are easily prevented by inexpensive vaccines. Today, on World Polio Day, the map includes updated data that dramatically illustrates how violence against health-care workers has led to a polio resurgence in Pakistan.
Each red triangle on the interactive, color-coded map indicates a violent incident. The orange circles represent polio outbreaks.
As Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported:
A ban on vaccinations by a Taliban leader in retaliation for U.S. drone strikes, and attacks on health-care workers after a fake vaccination campaign was used to hunt down Osama bin Laden, have hurt eradication efforts and enabled polio to spread inside Pakistan.
The latest cases have come after the monsoon rains, a "high season" for polio cases in South Asia, said Sona Bari, spokeswoman for the polio eradication program at the WHO in Geneva. Another cause of the recent surge in polio cases is that people from areas with militant activity, where vaccination has been banned for two years, have been displaced to other parts of the country, she said.
"This year we ran the most intensive campaigns in the country's history—three national immunization drives and five sub-national, said Ayesha Raza Farooq, head of the Prime Minister's Monitoring & Coordination Cell for Polio.
Militants have targeted these drives, and 61 polio workers have been killed since 2012.
According to Laurie Garrett, the Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Global Health, the map also reveals that:
- Africa continues to have the largest outbreaks of diseases that are vaccine-preventable, largely due to supply-chain difficulties and weak health systems.
- Outbreaks of whooping cough and measles are on the rise in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Wealthier countries see higher incidences of whooping cough and measles, while lower-income countries experience a range of infectious disease outbreaks and a notable resurgence of polio.
The map of U.S. outbreaks of measles (brown circles) and whooping cough (green circles) is pictured below: