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Peshawar, a priest at the forefront of anti- polio vaccination campaigns

Jan. 21, 2014

"The assassination of volunteers engaged in the vaccination campaigns against polio broke my heart. After the bloodshed nobody wanted to continue the project of prevention. This is why I felt the need to do something to help the younger generation to be born without the risk of disease", Fr. Anwar Patras tells AsiaNews.  The Pakistani priest is active in the areas of Nowshera and Attock in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. With the permission of Church leaders, he has devoted much of his life and mission to promoting vaccination against the disease, knocking door to door and meeting people, regardless of ethnicity or faith. And to those who ask why a priest decided to devote himself to this project, he explains that "this is not about religion, but we are talking about humanity ... and my faith teaches me to see the human being as a whole".

In a recent report, the World Health Organization has recognized the effectiveness of India in the fight against polio, eradicated from the country as a whole. The situation in neighbouring Pakistan and particularly in Peshawar, capital of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is dramatically different where the main basin of the spread and infection is concentrated. Of the new 83 documented cases, 79 are well documented in the city.

A serious and urgent problem, to which Fr. Anwar Patras has decided to devote a part of his life and his mission: "I'm just doing my part against polio - adds the priest - just as any of us can do, trying to contribute to the fight against polio". Dr. Fazal Haq, of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar , confirms the seriousness of the situation , which he terms as "critical." On the one hand there is the "scourge of terrorism”, which affects those who fight to eradicate the disease that is becoming a real “epidemic". He hopes for a resumption of vaccination campaigns to "save succeeding generations".


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