"Disease Warriors" follows the frontline health workers battling the poliovirus in the streets of Peshawar. The global campaign to eradicate polio was launched in 1988. That year, 350,000 children were paralyzed by the crippling virus across 125 countries. Today, the poliovirus is confined to just three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. 86% of all children under five must be vaccinated with the oral vaccine in order to stop polio from circulating in a community. But vaccinating every last child is not that easy.
The Retro Report
The polio virus is almost completely wiped off the face of the earth, thanks to a global effort to exterminate the crippling disease, but eliminating it entirely has been a challenge.
The New York Times
What do the CIA and Nigerian imams have to do with the fight to end polio? Retro Report examines how the worlds of politics and public health can collide.
Mir Ali Shah is an HIV+ drug user in Pakistan, who wants to kick his heroin habit. He turns to Nai Zindagi, an organization comprised mostly of recovered users, for help in changing his life.
In the context of risk, transmission and prevention of HIV, a failure to acknowledge the linkages between mobility and the epidemic translates to policies and practices in both the country of origin and destination, which undermine the global endorsement of the principle of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support as a basic human right.
HIV and Migrant Labor
While migration itself is not documented as a direct risk factor for HIV infection, overseas migrant labor populations have been recognized by the international community as vulnerable to HIV.
Driven by poverty and a lack of education and opportunity in their homeland, forced to struggle with inequality, discrimination and sometimes questionable legal status in their host countries, laborers are often unable to overcome language, cultural and other socio-economic barriers in order to access sexual and reproductive health information and services to prevent them from engaging in high risk behaviour. Limited knowledge of condom use and safer sex practices and easy, affordable access to commercial sex further increase migrant workers’ susceptibility to the infection.
By subjecting overseas migrant labour to mandatory testing, health becomes the criteria by which entry and stay in the host country is determined. Unless detection and deportation is connected to information and treatment upon return, such policies only undermine Pakistan’s public health response. Unless they know their status, deported laborers will not seek treatment nor adopt preventative behaviours thereby lowering the risk of infecting others.