17:59 GMT09 May 2021
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    Police in Northern Pakistan have arrested more than 450 parents for refusing to vaccinate their children against polio.

    Hundreds of parents have been arrested in recent days because they refused to allow their children to be given the polio vaccine.

    Feroz Shah, a spokesman for the Peshawar district administration, said 471 people have been arrested.

    Those arrested on Monday were from suburban areas of Peshawar where militant groups regularly attack police and polio workers and where opposition to vaccination is relatively strong.

    Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains widespread. Efforts to eradicate it have been jeopardized by reluctance from parents, opposition from militants and attacks on immunization teams.

    The reason for such resistance is due to the fact that the Taliban militants claim the polio vaccination initiative is a façade for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilize Muslims. The militants increased attacks after a Pakistani doctor was recruited by the CIA to set up a hepatitis immunization initiative as part of efforts to track down al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, reports Pakistani media.

    The virus is most prevalent in the Northern Province Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with government starting fresh efforts to vaccinate more than 2.7 million children in the province.


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    children, polio, vaccine, Taliban, Pakistan
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