Intended for healthcare professionals


Districts of Pakistan boycott polio immunisation until economic and health demands are met

BMJ 2023; 383 doi: (Published 06 December 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;383:p2890
  1. Aisling Irwin
  1. Oxfordshire

Tribal elders in the last remaining areas of Pakistan to have endemic wild polio are boycotting immunisation campaigns until the country’s government meets demands on infrastructure, livelihoods, and health.

Various tribal jirgas (assemblies) in the south of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the country’s north west have staged 677 boycotts so far this year, with demands ranging from electricity provision to refuse collection. Without the boycotts, “I would have finished polio by the end of last year,” said Shahzad Baig, coordinator of Pakistan’s National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication.

The growth of district-wide, large scale boycotts was highlighted at a 28 November press conference hosted by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is supported by the World Health Organization. In Bannu, one of the endemic districts, jirgas in several union councils have imposed a boycott, …

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