The daylight killing of the five teachers and two health workers stokes worries that public health campaigns will suffer and lead to a resurgence of diseases like polio.
Pakistani police on Wednesday searched for the gunmen behind the brazen murder of five teachers and two health workers, amid fears that public health campaigns would suffer and lead to a resurgence of polio and other preventable diseases.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which occurred Tuesday in Swabi, a city in the troubled northwest. The Pakistani Taliban has in the past vowed to target, among others, health workers involved in campaigns to wipe out polio.
Last year, 15 health and aid workers were killed in Pakistan, making the country one of the most dangerous in the world for aid workers, according to the British-based consultancy Humanitarian Outcomes. Most were women. Development sector experts now express concerns that those working on the ground will shy away from assignments.
“In the past, local volunteers, be they teachers, medical workers or social mobilizers, considered themselves safe and worked hand in hand with foreign aid workers and paramilitary personnel in even the most dire of circumstances,” says Hassan Belal Zaidi, a development and communication specialist, based in Islamabad. “But now, it would not be unreasonable for them to think twice and even refuse to travel to remote parts of the country if they know there is a chance they may get shot.”
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