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April 14th, 2010
A child gets a dose of polio vaccine in the city of Mingora in Swat district . Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai

A child gets a dose of polio vaccine in the city of Mingora in Swat district . Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai

Ashfaq Yusufzai has won a 2009 Media Health Award in Pakistan in the category of “Best Reporter – International” for his story for IPS in November, “Polio Vaccination: One Hurdle Down, One More to Go”. The awards are a joint initiative of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO in Pakistan. Two thousand three hundred entries were judged by a five member jury.

The awards ceremony was held on World Health Day, 7 April, with the Minister of Health along with the country heads of UNICEF and WHO in attendance. The Health Secretary, Khushnood Lashari, explained the thinking behind the awards “The idea is to promote reporting on health issues so that alongside political and strategic reports, health news should also constitute breaking news.”

Ashfaq’s winning story datelined Peshawar is about renewed efforts in late 2009 to vaccinate children against polio in the Swat region. From January 2007 to May 2009 the vaccination campaign stalled because of fierce opposition from the Taliban that controlled the region during that period. The Taliban and some hard-line local clerics are convinced that the immunisation programmme renders recipients impotent and sterile. Other religious leaders have supported the vaccination efforts.

Read Ashfaq’s award-winning story in full here: “Polio Vaccination: One Hurdle Down, One More to Go

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