Anti-polio campaign: Foreign NGOs could ask USAID to withdraw support

Displeased at misuse of health campaigns that has resulted in mistrust of parents.


Sumera Khan July 16, 2013
An emblem of USAID.PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:


As the fallout from the leaked Abbottabad Commission report continues, it has been learnt that some foreign NGOs may ask USAID to withdraw from Pakistan’s on-going anti-polio programme. These NGOs have also threatened to withdraw if this does not happen.


Officials privately told The Express Tribune on Thursday that a high-level meeting comprising officials of concerned foreign NGOs was held in Islamabad immediately after the Abbottabad Commission’s report was leaked in which USAID was for the first time mentioned in its role of facilitating the CIA, along with Save the Children, for the covert operation of hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden.

The officials at the meeting expressed their anger over the misuse of their health campaigns which resulted in the mistrust of parents and resurfacing of the disease.

“It has been decided in principle that after Eidul Fitr and after consultations with the government, USAID may be officially notified as a damage control measure to avoid further setbacks in the polio eradication campaign where the number of parent refusals has risen since the May 2, 2011 raid.”

Brit Steiner, an official spokesperson for the American aid agency, declined to comment on a question regarding its alleged involvement in the hunt for the slain al Qaeda chief.

However, a USAID official privately said “Spokesperson Steiner had issued a media interaction advisory on July 3 to USAID staff associated with all its projects as a reaction to a story done by the National Broadcasting Corporation, highlighting USAID’s problems in Pakistan regarding the killing of lady health workers.

But after the Abbottabad Commission report was leaked, Steiner re-sent the same advisory to the staff.”

USAID has been working in Pakistan since 2009 on 60 development projects worth $3.5 billion.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.

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