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Murdered at 14 for Fighting to End Polio

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 7, 2013

Farzana

I’ve been looking for a photograph of Farzana Bibi, a 14-year-old girl shot and killed last month by Islamic extremists in Pakistan because she was working on a polio eradication team.

And here she is.

Farzana  joins a long line of medical martyrs who have died to free us from epidemic diseases.  But few have died so needlessly, or with victory so near:  Polio, which once crippled and killed millions, was on target to be eradicated from the Earth sometime later this year.

As a reminder, here are a couple of news account describing the killings, and also suggesting why eradication probably won’t happen soon:

A volunteer who was shot during a wave of attacks on polio-vaccination teams has succumbed to his injuries in Pakistan.  That brings to nine the number of health workers killed since December 17.

Officials say the student volunteer died on December 20, a day after he was shot while helping distribute polio drops in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Five of the nine health workers killed were women.

The bloodshed prompted United Nations agencies to suspend their campaign against polio in Pakistan after the attacks.

The Islamic terrorist group Jundullah claimed responsibility, telling RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that polio vaccination is forbidden in Islam.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the disease is endemic.

I only have partial information on the victims, but here are the sad additions to the list of Medical Martyrs I started a few weeks ago.  Corrections or additional information are welcome:

Akhtar, Naseema (1977-2012), killed by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan, for working with the World Health Organization to save her country from polio,  age 35.

Bibi, Farzana (1992-2012), killed by terrorists in Peshawar, Pakistan, for working with the World Health Organization to save her country from polio, age 14

Last Name Unknown, Fahmida (1992-2012), killed by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan, for working with the World Health Organization to save her country from polio,  age 20

Last Name Unknown, Kaniz Fatima (1992-2012), killed by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan,  for working with the World Health Organization to save her country from polio, age 20

Last Name Unknown, Madiha (1993-2012), killed by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan, for working with the World Health Organization to save her country from polio,  age 19.

Mehsud, Umer Farooq, (1982-2012),  killed by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, for working with the World Health Organization to save her country from polio, age 30.

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