Paranoia can kill

The World Health Organization has been forced to withdraw a team of polio vaccinators from a city in Pakistan after two of its members were shot.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a 19-year-old was killed and a 20-year-old was critically wounded in the shootings that took place Tuesday in Peshawar. The article said that while no one has been charged or taken credit for the attack, the Pakistani Taliban has targeted vaccination teams in the past.

Last week, a policeman accompanying a vaccination team was shot and killed.

WHO officials said the vaccination program will not resume until the provincial government can assure them it is safe.

The story pointed out that polio has been eliminated in most of the world thanks to vaccines. In the Western world, it was eradicated by the late 1950s.

But Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are still plagued by the disease.

The Journal story noted that the Afghanistan Taliban has endorsed the vaccination program, while the Pakistani Taliban opposes it. But even the Afghani Taliban has warned the United Nations not to use foreigners to administer such programs.

Several conservative clerics in Pakistan have charged that the polio eradication program is a ruse to sterilize or poison Muslim children.

So a disease that could be easily eliminated will continue to ravage the citizenry of those areas. The paranoia of the adults will kill or maim the children.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.