Videos and images from Pakistan show healthcare workers braving extreme winter conditions this week in an effort to get kids vaccinated against polio.
The healthcare workers are seen trekking through waist-deep snow, wearing minimal winter gear, while holding refrigerated bags containing the vaccine.
According to local reports, parts of Balochistan, the province where the photos were taken, were placed under a state of emergency on Wednesday due to extreme weather conditions. Several main roads remained inaccessible as of Thursday.
The vaccinators continued their perilous journey in heavy snowfall as part of a nationwide polio eradication drive after a resurgence of cases in the country.
The mountainous regions of Pakistan have faced treacherous winter weather conditions this year.
Earlier this month, 22 people — including 10 children — died in subfreezing temperatures after their vehicles were stuck in heavy snowfall near a popular mountain resort town.
Balochistan is also one of Pakistan’s provinces that is most prone to climate change disasters, experiencing its wettest month last year during the devastating monsoon season that destroyed 1.7 million homes and killed at least 1,500 people.
Polio continues continues to pose a significant hurdle in Pakistan. The country is only one of two in the world where polio is still considered an endemic viral infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The other is Afghanistan.
The virus targets the nervous system of children, which can lead to paralysis or death.
Pakistan launched its annual polio vaccine drive earlier this month, with a goal of vaccinating more than 44 million children this year.
- In a Vice documentary, journalist Ben Anderson explores rural Pakistan’s distrust in polio vaccinators, showcasing how Pakistani Taliban members openly encourage violence against these healthcare workers.