Pakistan’s first cartoon superheroine joins fight against polio

Amid a rise in polio cases in Pakistan, the country’s first animated female superhero, Burka Avenger, has joined the fight to eradicate the highly-infectious virus.

As of Tuesday, the World Health Organization estimated that Pakistan had 210 cases of the disease, which can cause paralysis. Currently, the country accounts for 85 percent of the cases worldwide and is up nearly five times the number of cases it had last year.

“It’s alarming, the situation is alarming,” said “Burka Avenger” creator Aaron Haroon Rashid in an interview with Reuters. “So in this particular case we decided to tackle the polio issue head on.”

In the cartoon’s polio episode, Burka Avenger, the superheroine alter ego of a school teacher named Jiya, protects a box of polio vaccines from the show’s villain.

Rashid, a Pakistani popstar created the Peabody-winning “Burka Avenger” in 2013. The show’s title character fights for social justice in each episode using books and pens as her weapons.

Her motto is “Justice, Peace and Education for all.”

Burka Avenger Fights Polio: World Polio Day Special from Unicorn Black on Vimeo.

Polio has been all but eradicated in the world. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are the only countries still fighting the disease.

The BBC reported on the challenges faced by Pakistan’s polio workers in a video published Friday.

“Of course, as we know, in Pakistan polio health workers have faced a terrible time; they’ve been – scores of them – have been killed or kidnapped or threatened,” Rashid told Reuters. “So they are very brave. They are out there on the front line, and they are being very brave. And we wanted to have that reflected in our TV show as well.”